The Berkeley Carroll School

Humanities

Humanities is the study of the human condition. The Middle School Humanities department sees the study of humanity’s moral, spiritual and intellectual struggles and achievements as forming the essence of Berkeley Carroll’s mission and purpose and our curriculum is directly aligned with fostering students’ critical, ethical and global thinking. At the core, our courses explore the question “What does it mean to be human?”

In fifth grade, students study of ancient cultures, journey literature and world geography as a way learn into thinking critically about where they come from and how all people change through experiences. Sixth graders focus on the civilizations of Ancient Greece and Rome and the Islamic Empire of the medieval period, using as a guide the essential questions: Who decides how we treat one another? Who decides how we act? How is a person’s status determined? What does a community care about the most? Seventh graders study our nation's history, literature, art, geography and current events. Students build reading, writing and speaking skills individually and by working in teams on projects, simulations and presentations. Eighth graders use critical, ethical and global thinking to reflect on identity, conflict, social justice and the power of storytelling and narrative.

Humanities Courses by Grade

5th Grade

Fifth grade is a year in which students transition into the Middle School and become increasingly independent. Through a study of ancient cultures, journey literature and world geography, students learn to think critically about where they come from and how all people change through our experiences. We encourage students to use concrete evidence to support their inferences in strong paragraphs and to explore ancient civilizations through experiential projects. The creation of a full Egyptian tomb, replete with artifacts, is a highlight of the fifth grade year.

Units of Study in Humanities 5

  • Mapping the World by Heart Geography Curriculum
  • Early Humans
  • Agriculture Revolution and Sumer
  • Ancient Egypt: The Egyptian Tomb
  • MesoAmerica
Texts include When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

6th Grade

Humanities 6 studies the civilizations of Ancient Greece and Rome and the Islamic Empire of the medieval period, using as a guide the essential questions, Who decides how we treat one another? Who decides how we act? How is a person’s status determined? What does a community care about the most?

Units of Study in Humanities 6

  • Ancient Greece: Constitutions and the City State, Citizens vs. Subjects (Athens vs. Sparta), Socrates and Plato, the Persian War and the Peloponnesian War
  • Ancient Rome: From Republic to Empire
  • Monotheism and Polytheism: The role of Judaism in the Ancient World, the rise of Christianity in the Roman World, Muhammad and the Rise of Islam and the Golden Age of Islam
Texts include Antigone by Sophocles, I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang,The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, as well as articles and stories read throughout the year. Projects include a Make Your Own Dystopia project and research projects on Ancient Rome and the Islamic Empire.

7th Grade

Humanities 7 unites the study of our nation's history, literature, art, geography and current events. Students build reading, writing and speaking skills individually and by working in teams on projects, simulations and presentations.

Units of Study in Humanities 7

  • Iroquois Culture and Society, 1400
  • New Amsterdam, 1610-1660
  • The American Revolution, 1775-1783
  • The Constitution and Rights
  • Africans in America
  • Slavery in America
Projects include a First Amendment simulation trial with students acting as justices, prosecutors and defense attorneys, enacted in a Brooklyn courthouse, an in-class performance of "Twelve Angry Men and Women" and a research project focusing on innovative American artists, exploring art as a counter-narrative expressing realities, ideas and ideals not always found in government.

Texts include To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose and short stories and poems by American masters.

8th Grade

Eighth grade is a year in which students become more independent thinkers, develop a clearer sense of identity and justice and explore their ability to create change in the world. Eighth graders use critical, ethical and global thinking to reflect on identity, conflict, social justice and the power of storytelling and narrative.

Units of Study in Humanities 8

  • Alternative Narratives: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon)
  • Personal Essays: Identity and Storytelling
  • The Holocaust and World War II
  • Repression, Resistance, and Reconciliation: South Africa and Apartheid
  • The 8th Grade Living Wax Museum: The Power of Narrative; biographies, autobiographies and memoirs selected by students
  • Mexico: Conflict, Reform, and Political Art
  • Gender Identity, Love, and Conflict in Elizabethan England: Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet"
  • Islamic Identity in the Modern World: Muslim Representation through Media
The course draws from Facing History and Ourselves’ curriculum, The Holocaust and Human Behavior, and Brown University’s Choices Curriculum for the units, Mexico at a Crossroads and South Africa’s Struggle.

Projects include the Living Wax Museum, in which students choose a significant figure of history to research and embody. Texts include Maus by Art Spiegelman, Kaffir Boy: An Autobiography--The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa by Mark Mathabane, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi, and Shakespeare’s "Romeo and Juliet" as well as classic essays and contemporary writing on current events.
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