Class Time: Tuesdays, 1:55 - 2:55
Grade Level: 9th - 12th
Instructor: Diane Harvey
Course Description: To truly understand the present, it is necesary to turn our gaze to the past. As the late historian David McCullough astutely observed, “How can we know who we are and where we are going if we don't know anything about where we have come from and what we have been through, the courage shown, the costs paid, to be where we are?” The study of U.S. history is so much more than the memorization of dates, battles, and presidential administrations. America’s fascinating history is a portrait of her people, their struggles, and their success in coming together to build a nation. By understanding the past, we can better appreciate the sacrifices that have been made and the ways in which we can continue the legacy of those who preceded us in shaping America’s future.
Beginning with Columbus, we will embark upon an exploration of 500 years of American history with a focus on understanding the social and political changes that transformed a former British colony into a modern world power. Through a close study of the major events and people that shaped our nation, students will grow in their understanding of our country’s past as well as the guiding principles that continue to influence American discourse today.
This class will be highly interactive with a significant amount of class participation. Students should come to class with all readings completed in order to fully contribute to our class discussions. In addition to tests and quizzes, students will complete small group projects, class presentations, mock debates, and short research assignments designed to engage students and encourage a love of American history.
We will be supplementing textbook readings with original source documents, excerpts from American speeches, and online readings and videos to explore the individuals and events that impacted the development of our nation.
There is an Honors option for students who excel academically and are prepared to take on additional work in the course. Honors students will be expected to devote extra time to the material through additional reading in each quarter, extra assignments, and thorough preparation for more challenging exams. There is an additional non-refundable Honors fee of $50 payable at the beginning of the year.
Honors option: additional $50
Class Size: 8 - 15 students
The American Odyssey: A History of the United States by Keller, Klee, Zeitz, and Holdren (2009). ISBN: 9781601530349 (Purchase used via Amazon Marketplace – be sure to confirm you have the correct book by checking the ISBN)
* All other materials will be online or provided as handouts.
Teacher Qualifications: Diane Harvey is a former Assistant Professor of Government at George Mason University. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science in 1993 and her doctorate in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland in 1998, specializing in American Government and Political Behavior. While completing her doctorate, she taught numerous undergraduate classes for the university and was a recipient of their Excellence in Teaching Award. Upon completion of her doctorate, she served as assistant professor and internship director in the political science department at George Mason University. She took an "early retirement" from academia to homeschool her children, but she has returned to the classroom in recent years to teach courses in literature, history, and government to local high school students. She has been an active member of the Catholic homeschooling community in Loudoun County for the past 20 years and lives in Potomac Falls with her husband, four children, and one incredibly naughty dog.