Academics / Humanities

English and History

Humanities at Kirby includes the English and History departments, both of which reinforce critical thinking, analytical reading, and expository and creative writing skills.

The development of writing skills is a primary objective in every English course. By graduation all students produce meaningful, well-written, and well-developed papers. Teachers use multiple drafts, one-on-one conferencing, peer revision, and detailed feedback to develop each student’s writing and critical-thinking skills at each grade level.

English courses cultivate language skills by teaching vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension, and oral expression. All English courses include vocabulary; writing assignments in all grades integrate grammar instruction. Students read great works of literature—both traditional and contemporary—from several genres, including novels, short stories, plays, poetry, nonfiction, and essays. High school students demonstrate critical thinking and public speaking skills in seminar discussions and debates and give presentations to make persuasive arguments, share creative work, and present research.

The history curriculum is rooted in an awareness that history is not “the past,” but a process of interpreting the past using high-level critical-thinking skills and requiring curiosity, persistence, skepticism, creativity, ethical integrity, communications skills, and attention to detail. To this end, classes balance the delivery of content with the development of skills that ultimately enable the independent acquisition, analysis, interpretation, and effective communication of historical information. Content provides the mechanism for skill acquisition, and skills enable the effective understanding of content. Both equip students to engage adeptly with the major issues of the modern world and to define for themselves what it means to be responsible citizens and adults.

The choice of which events, people, and eras are emphasized in any class depends primarily on:

• their importance in shaping the modern world,
• the degree to which they facilitate the mastery of important historical concepts, themes, and imperatives, and
• the degree to which they contribute to a broad-based understanding of diverse perspectives and constituencies in history.

Faculty emphasize an engagement with primary sources, the development of research skills, effective oral and written communication, and the ability to work collaboratively with others—as well as the basic information-processing skills that all college-prep students need.

History touches all aspects of human experience—from science to art to spirituality—and that history can be informed in turn by a wide variety of other disciplines. Kirby’s History Department embraces the idea that cross-pollination between disciplines is not merely informative but also inherently intellectually invigorating. Accordingly, classes make use of information and techniques from a variety of disciplines, including anthropology, archaeology, art history, economics, linguistics, literature, music, paleoanthropology, sociology, and theology.

Students interested in a more in-depth course of study in Humanities are encouraged to pursue our Humanities Intensive Path.

Learn more from our Curriculum Catalog »