At Lincoln, the study of history helps students look at how the past has shaped, and continues to shape, the way we understand and bring change to today’s world. Using global, national, and local perspectives, the history curriculum examines all aspects of human society to teach students the skills they need to challenge generalizations about people, events, ideas, or time periods.
By focusing on specific, detailed developments that underpin stereotypes, students learn to question assumptions and embrace history’s inherent complexity. Developing skills like critical examination of primary sources, strong oral and written expression of ideas and interpretations, and empathetic examination, students learn to distinguish between fact and opinion, and cause and effect to formulate and express their own arguments. In parallel, they recognize that far from being something that is doomed to repeat itself, history is about constant change, just as philosophy and methodology of the discipline has changed over time.
History is a much more nuanced and intricate process than simply the story of society’s progress or regression—it’s a discipline that helps students emerge as informed citizens prepared to have an active voice in our democracy.
Social Studies: K-5
Through studying history at Lincoln, our students develop the ways of thinking and skills needed to engage in and contribute to their varied communities in a productive, informed, and thoughtful manner.
Jess Kimball-Veeder, Lincoln School History Faculty
Social Studies: Lower School
Through a content rich, skills based and developmentally appropriate social studies curriculum that utilizes the L.I.F.E. (Lincoln’s Identity Framework for Empowerment) scope and sequence, students are given opportunities to honor the lived experiences of our school community, highlight individual and collective joy, and foster empowerment, while raising awareness of individual and collective struggles.
Students develop skills in using and creating maps, using chronological order to talk about events, exploring and understanding the many communities to which they belong, and how to ask and answer questions to learn about a desired topic. Lincoln’s Quaker identity is given considerable attention in the social studies curriculum, focusing on the historical implications of the Quaker Testimonies, otherwise known as the SPICES. (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, Stewardship).
During their time in the Lower School, students explore identity, an understanding of personal and cultural geography, power, and perspectives through both local and global lenses including studies of Rhode Island, Cape Verde, Japan, Kenya, and Dominican Republic.
History: Middle School
Beginning in Grade 6, students delve into history with a focus on the study of ancient civilizations. Grade 7 offers a thematic approach to American history, anchored in uplifting the voices of communities that have too often been left out of the traditional narrative. With an emphasis on human rights, the Grade 8 history course challenges students to consider select areas of the world, both their histories and human rights issues, in the context of current events and political environments.
In addition to providing rich opportunities for engaging and productive classroom discussions, the content at each grade level serves as a vehicle for skill development. Teachers dedicate considerable attention to helping students grow as critical thinkers, close readers, thoughtful discussants, analytical writers, and mindful researchers. So much of Middle School is about learning how to learn—in history, students are encouraged to take intellectual risks in an environment that not only provides appropriate scaffolds but also gradually removes those scaffolds as the students build confidence and independence as they prepare for high school.
Through hands-on projects and field trips, students regularly bring history to life on campus and in the world, always reflecting on the ways in which the past informs and guides the present.
History: Upper School
In Upper School, history is required for all students in Grades 9 and 11 and there is a three year graduation requirement. In Grade 9, students begin with Topics in the Early Modern World and a solid quarter in Civics education, before moving on to The Shaping of the Modern World in Grade 10. Courses are globally-oriented, discussion-based, and involve specific and detailed training in writing the formal research paper. Students use multiple primary and secondary sources rather than a textbook in order to develop skills in analysis and interpretation and formulate their own thinking.
In Grade 11 students delve into The American Experience, a history core class that runs alongside The American Experience, an English core class. This alignment allows a more layered exploration of themes like Unpacking the American Dream, Resistance and Conformity, and The Self and Other. Students in grades 10, 11, and 12 are able to explore two electives: African Studies and Comparative Democracy. In African Studies students explore topics from the precolonial, colonial, and post-colonial periods and analyze Africa to understand its influence on the world and the influence of the world on it. Comparative Democracy examines the way in which democracy has emerged and been challenged over time as well as why it is facing a series of new crises today.
The fostering of writing and discussion skills are paramount at all levels, and each year students build on what they have learned in previous years in order to prepare them for success in college and beyond.