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Humanities

The Middle School Humanities program functions as a transition between the world of childhood and the adult world. We guide students through this transition with lessons and student-centered investigations in an intellectually safe atmosphere. The program fosters deep engagement and builds toward higher-level thinking, using cumulative assessments in the form of written work, performances, and applications of new knowledge and skills.

Middle School Humanities Courses

History 6 (#11004) English 6 (#15004)

Grade Six Humanities explores how various societies, each with its own traditions, beliefs, and values, share commonalities with other cultures around the world. One of our primary goals is finding ways of associating this theme with the personal experiences of the Sixth Graders, who are bringing a diverse range of experiences, talents, and backgrounds to form a new community at Pingry.

In Grade Six History, our journey will begin with an interdisciplinary unit of three case studies of civilizations before 1500: ancient Mali, India, and China. Next, our travels will lead us through medieval Europe, the Renaissance, the age of exploration, and the scientific revolution. We will end with a study of global exchanges and encounters that left a lasting impact on the world.

Students will be exposed to several assessments that will both help them strengthen their critical reading, thinking, and writing skills and provide the sense of individual exploration and ownership that is the essence of the Middle School experience. These assessments will also provide opportunities to begin learning formal research skills, including the proper use of in-text citations, electronic note cards, and a Works Cited page.

In English, along with vocabulary and grammar study, students will gain an appreciation of the wide range of social and ethnic voices of various cultures that unite readers in the human experience. This will be accomplished through an exploration of different genres: heroic myths, short stories, poems, plays, and novellas. (Some units will be interdisciplinary in nature; others will be discretely literary.) Students will learn to apply a wide variety of strategies to comprehend and analyze texts. Especially significant will be the introduction of the five-paragraph essay. Thus, students will learn to contribute as reflective, creative, and respectful members of a literarily, socially, and historically aware community.

History 7 (#11104) English 7 (#15104)

Form I Humanities expands the Grade Six program in two ways. Academically, it continues the thread exploring how diverse influences coalesce into unified cultures. Developmentally, the program draws parallels between communities in the world at large and the Middle School community here at Pingry. The goal is to teach Middle School students to identify and build on their own talents and potential, and to value those of their peers.

In History, the children learn about the transformation of community through the study of two cultures: the United States in the 19th century and China in the 20th. The primary focus is on the foundation events of each country: the history, the myths, and the inevitable conflicts, both internal and external. Questions will be posed, including “How do you build a community?”, “How does identity change?”, and “How is loyalty defined?” Through the exploration of these and other questions, students are exposed to issues of moral choice, justice, and power. In addition, we focus on practicing coherent and logical writing, developing research skills, and understanding graphic information such as that found in maps, tables, and charts.

In English, students will explore literature that focuses on defining and integrating a community. The literature includes plays and novels that provide a broad range of social perspectives dealing with oppression, racism, and injustice in the world. We stress careful reading and insightful thinking so students can express themselves with clarity and precision. Through writing, students learn to articulate ideas in a more sophisticated five-paragraph analytical essay.

History 8 (#11205) English 8 (#15204)

Form II Humanities explores the theme of a mature community and global leadership. Students will analyze how the United States exercised power and leadership in the global community in the 20th century, how the nation addressed its troubled racial history, and how American society and culture were transformed by the upheaval of the 1960s and 1970s. As America emerges as the most powerful and influential nation in the world, the Eighth Graders emerge as leaders of the Pingry Middle School community.

In History, students study the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the counterculture, and Watergate. The goal is to make students more interested in and knowledgeable about the contemporary world.

In English, students continue to examine the American journey and the themes of power and leadership in the 20th century. They explore connections between representative literature and history. Students continue their academic development in three main areas: reading, composition, and grammar. Students will learn the literary genres by reading short stories; modern novels; lyric, dramatic, and narrative poetry; modern drama; and autobiographies.