Common Ground: History and Literature in Real Life

Upper School students at St. Mary’s Episcopal School have found a way to illustrate the connection between history and literature. This collaborative project uses information literacy and technology tools to help students discover the universal truths between these two disciplines. The project offers students an answer to the age-old question, “Why do we need to know this?” Additionally, this project highlights the importance of the study of the humanities. Students connect novels and historical events to create deep meaning, use various tech tools for research, and present their research in a highly-visual, passionate way that eliminates boring slideshows. They are able to demonstrate their mastery of the topic and their understanding of the ethical use of media.

In the end, we base the unit of study around Hannah Ardent’s wise words: “The things of the world become human for us only when we can discuss them with our fellows. We humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by speaking of it, and in the course of speaking of it, we learn to be human.” In other words, we work to convince our students that the true value of the study of literature and history lies in the quest to better understand ourselves, and in doing that, better understand the world at large. In the end, we want our students to feel this deeply and understand that this means they have profound power to make a better world for themselves and others.

Does your school do something similar?

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