Our theme in United States History is "the Remembered Past." Throughout the year we consider not only what happened in the past, but also how we remember past events differently at different times. We began the year with a unit reflecting on the nature and limits of history as a discipline, which culminated in an imaginative exercise in the interpretation of evidence: "A Post-Apocalyptic Historical Archaeologist Reads Two Plays and a Packet."
Our second unit, which we wrapped up last week, introduced us more concretely to U.S. history through a brief survey of the interactions and relations between European colonists and Native Americans. Along with a unit test, we also had a group debate reflecting upon our unit through the lens of historical memory in public memorials. Students were required to make a case for memorializing one of four opposing figures (assigned, not chosen): John Winthrop, Anne Hutchinson, "King Philip," or the colonial victims of "King Philip's War." In doing so we not only researched individual figures; we also discussed (without resolving the question) whether monuments ought primarily to be reflections of past history or present values.
We now turn our attention to the Founding Era, where we will consider the intra-colonial debate over independence, read a colonial midwife's diary in order to reflect upon whose stories are worth telling, and evaluate the historical reliability of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the text they are reading in American literature.