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By: Chris Maddix, Humanities Teacher

Through the years, I’ve accumulated a few favorite sayings among my students:

“We’re not as smart as you think we are.”

Kids tend to say, “You know” after everything, as in “You never know, you know.”  Think about that one for a moment.

While taking a test, they walk up to me and ask,  “Is this the right answer?”

Question – “Can I have extra time to do this?”  Response – “There’s no time limit.”   Question – “Can I have extra time anyway?”

I would like to share the wonderful things we are learning in the classroom with you.

IMG_0446In 6th grade Ancient Civilizations, we wrote our names in Egyptian hieroglyphics.  Egypt is the second nation we have looked at this trimester, that was built on a river (the first was Mesopotamia).  We will also visit India and China, river nations.  In Mesopotamia, we created our own versions of a language and wrote some laws, just as Hammurabi did almost 4000 years ago.  Well, somewhat like Hammurabi anyway – ours were not quite so serious.  In Egypt, we’re getting quick lessons on pyramid building and mummification.  In India, we’ll see the origins of Hinduism and Buddhism. When we go to China, we’ll see why they built the Great Wall.  India (monsoons) and China (geographic isolation) are great places in which to discover the importance of geography.

The 7th graders are being introduced to a new course called World Cultures.  In it, we examine the geography, history and current events of the world’s regions.  We are currently designing historical calendars of the US and Canada.  It’s becoming clear that significant Canadian historical events are not easy to find.  One of the interesting projects I’ve set up for 7th grade is something I call “All the Trouble in the World.”  For the month of September, we examined the philosophies of a diverse group of theoreticians about running a government.  We looked at Thoreau, Machiavelli, Marx, Hitler, and Paine, among others.  Students learned a little about their respective philosophies, selected one, then analyzed and evaluated it.  This month, we’re looking at commerce – economics, trade, welfare, taxation, the value of labor, etc.  For this project students will examine a different field each month; by the end of the year, they will have compiled an all-encompassing portfolio.

IMG_0433The 8th grade is studying world history from the Renaissance to modern times.  The course will alternate between project and test. The students created objects of interest to people during the Renaissance and demonstrated them to SJA pre-first and fifth grades.  Next week they will evaluate the European monarchs of the 17th century, ranking them in order from best to worst. Then they will research and give speeches about characters from the Enlightenment.  What was it like to be Thomas Hobbes, or Adam Smith, or Rousseau?  Relax, folks, it’s much more interesting than it sounds.

Stop by and watch us in action any time.  In accordance with my motto, we “have fun and learn a few things.”