Taft Portrait of a History Graduate
Taft’s History department nurtures the development of student’s habits of mind, skills and understanding of the world they live in and will one day lead.
The habits of mind and dispositions we seek to cultivate include an enthusiasm for a deeper understanding of history and an appreciation for the remarkable individuals whose fascinating stories compromise history. We hope to create students who are engaged and curious not just about the events of the world around them, but the historical trends and developments that have created the world today. They will understand that over time, both continuity and change shape and mold human events, and why “the past” is not synonymous with “history.” Taft graduates should be able to identify the themes that resonate from the past through today.
Taft graduates will learn to read critically, write persuasively, and argue passionately. They will discover the art and science of research, from primary sources to digital resources. They will collaborate with their peers, thus contribute to learning and not compete with them. They will also learn to be both critical and open-minded—able to differentiate between opinion and fact, while acknowledging the wisdom of different opinions and the subjectivity of evidence. They will be able to glean the perspective and context of historical documents, while applying them to their own arguments. Most of all, they will learn to craft those arguments with evidence designed to persuade.
The Taft history curriculum offers students a broad range of subject matter to immerse themselves in. Each course explores a variety of narratives, those who constitute the majority of people and from marginalized groups, and through the combination of perspectives, students contextualize history and examine the complexity of causes and effects of past events. The lower mid course, Foundations, examines the role of the individual in society through the lens of the pre-modern world. In their mid year, students may choose from a variety of options that view the world in a different lens: World History II: Revolutions, which examines the revolutions of the recent past; AP Human Geography, which explores the patterns and processes that have shaped the Earth and people’s use of resources; or AP European History. The upper mid year offers both United States and AP US History. In the senior year, electives include AP US Government and AP Comparative Government, while there are additional cross-curricular offerings including AP Economics.
The Taft History department believes in the ability of every student to improve. We believe that every student can learn to express themselves through the written and spoken word, standing alone before a class or working together in a group. We believe that truly sound thinking comes from critical examination of the evidence, and that both skepticism and open-mindedness are crucial to scholarship. And we believe that every class should be both a place of dynamic intellectual risk taking and a supportive environment where every voice is valued.
The prestigious Concord Review has published an essay on the Temperance Movement by Stephen Cho '18.