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The underlying goal of the curriculum is to enhance students’ understanding and appreciation of how forces influence the course of global human history, from the Enlightenment to today. Students learn through projects as well as texts (primary and secondary sources), debate, research analysis, document analysis, written analysis, and discussion. By asking students to apply their knowledge of the past to the challenges of the future in an increasingly “globalized” world, students develop a critical global perspective as well as an understanding of the responsibilities they have as individuals and citizens in a democratic society. 

The Upper School history curriculum begins in the 9th grade, focusing on global history and geography from the ideals of the Enlightenment through the present. Students examine the formation of the modern world through the lenses of history, politics, economics, and geography. With this solid background in world history, students in 10th grade are ready to focus on the major forces that have shaped the United States such as political liberalism, nationalism, industrialization, and imperialism. First semester 11th grade students will have the choice of either five thematic courses or one year-long AP course. Second semester, 11th graders who are not in AP will choose one of two thematic course offerings. 12th graders during their first semester will have the opportunity to take one of five thematic courses. Second semester, 12th grade will exchange history and English for their Senior Project and Humanities Capstone Class.

Unveiling Vail Mountain School’s Newly Designed History Curriculum:
Ninth grade students spend their year building foundational skills and knowledge of the global stage through the lens of world history. As tenth graders, students take a more micro view of history by examining United States history. Tenth grade students will need further development in skill, content, and contextualization in order to prepare them for the advancement in coursework that will be required of them in their junior and senior years, therefore, AP US History is no longer offered. In its place, we will offer AP Human Geography to qualified juniors in 2023-2024 for students who want a year-long course and an AP course. 

For those who desire a more thematic learning experience, 11th and 12th grade students have the great opportunity to learn in thematic classes. The 11th grade and 12th grade semester courses are designed for students to be able to delve deeply in one specific area in history. We recognize that when students can choose their courses, they tend to be highly engaged with the topic and demonstrate curiosity in their learning. The upper level semester long courses are meant to serve as dynamic catalysts in student growth, encouraging students to understand the many layers of complex issues including the background stories, the voices who shaped history, the multiple perspectives and the outside forces and triggers. These semester long courses will offer 11th and 12th grades an opportunity to learn together in the first semester. While content differs in these classes, critical thinking, research, analytical and comprehension skills and objectives will remain standard in all upper level courses inclusive of the AP year-long history course. 

History Courses Offered 2023 - 2024