Critical Thinking in Practice


Whitfield’s social studies courses emphasize the teaching of critical thinking skills with emphasis placed on helping students learn how to integrate, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate both primary and secondary sources and developing empathy for people in different times and places.

In United States History, juniors compare and contrast historical time periods, characters, and events while continually exploring the course’s overarching themes of art and culture, economics and capitalism, government and politics, and migration and globalization. Throughout the year, students read and interpret articles from a variety of sources, engage in seminar discussions, and write essays that articulate their interpretations based upon sound research and evidence. 

For one of their assignments this trimester, students are crafting narratives of American history through a lens of their choosing that they believe to be accurate and important in their own lives. As research, students are considering the many articles they have read so far this year and are reflecting on how and where they see themselves in the story of American history. In addition to their essays, they will create an annotated timeline that supports their story using events from the arrival of the first humans through the Civil War. Students will present their timeline using Google Slides, Powerpoint, Adobe Spark, or Sutori. 

“Depending on who we are, we view American history and our personal connections to it differently,” said faculty member Matt Coryell. “I encourage my students to use multiple lenses as they contextualize the events that we study. In history, I don’t want my students to think about how great or terrible an event was—I want to teach them about what happened and then I want them to think about that as they see fit. My job is to teach them to think—not what to think.”