History Department

History instruction at SMA is dynamic; rather than a static series of names and dates to memorize, we present the subject as the ordering of past events around themes conveyed through rhetorical modes such as narration or argumentation. In the lower school teachers seek to instill a love of the subject through storytelling. In the middle grades we focus on understanding the past by exploring causation and concepts of increasing complexity. Building on this foundation, the high school curriculum guides students to judge the past using reason, proper evidence, and, especially, Catholic principles. In keeping with the rest of Academy curriculum, we focus on developing the intellect rather than accumulating encyclopedic knowledge.

History at SMA is based on the Catholic perspective that, as Christopher Dawson explained, interprets time in light of eternity and human events according to divine revelation. In practice this means that we understand the reality and effects of original sin and that the gates of Heaven remained closed while God prepared the way for the coming of His Son, which is the centerpiece of time. This perspective integrates Church and secular history and views all past events in relation to man's final end. Our curriculum reflects the broadness of this vision by presenting the unbroken story of the past from ancient, medieval, early modern, to modern in essentially three cycles of four years. The one exception is the eighth grade, when students learn in a more focused way about their own nation.

In addition to learning the Catholic perspective of the past, students also learn through our curriculum how to explain change over time through cause and effect, to understand human nature and social structures, to exercise their judgment through considering the complexity of real events, and to perceive the essential context for their lives as individuals and members of larger societies. The study of the past is not sterile or simply speculative, because it prepares students to make informed choices about present challenges by learning from the wisdom and experience of the past, a thrilling story that should inspire a sense of wonder and a desire to know more.