Social Studies changes course


Alexis Monsey (9) works on her map during freshman World Studies. The class was learning about the eight specific features of civilizations. "I was labeling and drawing a map of European civilizations," Monsey said.

For the 2019-20 school year, Ladue freshman will not take United States Studies. They will instead take a new World History and Geography class in an attempt to provide students with a stronger foundation in history. 

Freshman have taken US Studies for the past 15 years. However, the Social Studies department recently decided that teaching U.S. studies during the junior year of high school will benefit students more in their future as US citizens.

“The focus of this change is to produce learned citizens,” social studies teacher Jeff Miller said. “The goal of the new curriculum is to provide US History and Government towards the end of a high school career when students are more mature and about to reach voting eligibility.”

The department started discussing this change in the fall of 2017. The new class was then finalized in the fall of 2018 when it was presented to and approved by the Ladue Board of Education. Throughout this time, many decisions had to be made to ensure the course’s success. 

“We carefully considered a wide range of voices, data and opinions,” social studies teacher Mike Hill said. “We’ve spent the better part of professional development considering the scope, sequence and philosophy of our entire social studies curriculum. We wanted the whole [Kindergarten] through [12th grade] social studies experience to be seamless and meaningful for all students.”

This class will cover the early modern world, starting in the 1300s. Some of the later units include the Renaissance, the Rise of Democracy, the Great Depression, World War II and the Cold War.

“We get to analyze and talk about different events, and we learn about how those events have shaped the global stage in their own way,” freshman Sela Masaki said. “We also learn about global impacts on those events and how the world has shaped them as well.” 

The course will also focus on skill development, hoping to prepare students for more advanced history classes later in high school. Students planning to take AP history classes will benefit from the general skill set taught in this class. 

“The curriculum will cover primary and secondary source evaluation, note-taking, argument writing, historical analysis, research and group collaboration,” district social studies coordinator Laila Crabtree said. “It will focus on the skills students need to be successful beyond high school.”

Ultimately, this class will bring new ideas to freshman social studies that haven’t been taught as thoroughly in the past. Also, it will create a new foundation for students and teachers to build off of later in their careers. 

“Good things often come from teachers reflecting on our own practice,” social studies teacher Ashley Lock said. “We’re all challenging ourselves to bring new perspectives to this curriculum, and every aspect of rolling out this curriculum has been very intentional. I am hopeful that this course will be a great introduction to the great courses that our department has to offer.”