RSSAA - Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor

Social Sciences


The High School history curriculum provides a full survey of world history, with specific focus on the aspects that have shaped our modern society. There are three ninth grade history classes: Revolutions and the History of Art are taught as main lesson blocks; 20th century history is an afternoon class. Revolutions is a course that traces the roots and outcomes of revolutions in human history. Examples of revolutions are drawn from the French, Russian, American, Chinese, Indian, Cuban and Arab Spring revolutions as political examples, and the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions as cultural examples. The History of Art ninth grade course is a survey course that starts by outlining the development of western art from the Lascaux Caves to Cubism. The second half of the class takes a closer look at later 20th century artists, including Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky, Beuys and Richter, and art forms including cubism and performance art, and non-western art including African masks, Japanese kimonos, Emperor Qin’s terracotta warriors, and Asian works in lacquer, silk and porcelain. 20th century history, taught as an afternoon class, is an examination of topics in 20th century history. Events are examined through newspaper articles, book chapters and biographies. The changing role of women, the American civil rights movement, and the two world wars are major themes.

There are two tenth grade main lesson history blocks, Ancient Cultures and Greek history, and an American history course taught as an afternoon class. In the ancient cultures class, tenth grade students study the dynamics of early societies, particularly in the Fertile Crescent, China, India and Tibet. Special attention is paid to the development of agriculture, writing and religion. The Greek history block introduces Minoan-Mycenaean and ancient Greek culture. Topics include ancient Crete, Solon, Sparta/Athens, the Persian wars, Plato, Aristotle and Alexander. The tenth grade afternoon history class on American history is the first part of a tenth and eleventh grade American history curriculum that completes a full survey from the first contact between North Americans and Europeans to the present day. The tenth grade afternoon course explores the pre-contact North American continent, including the cultures and people, and then takes up the first explorations and settlements of the continent. This first course concludes as the colonies move towards revolution.

The eleventh graders have three history main lesson blocks — Rome to the Renaissance, Asian Empires, and the History of Music – and an afternoon American history class. Topics in Rome to the Renaissance include Roman architecture, law and religion; Rome’s decline and fall in the west; the early papacy; the spread of Christianity and Islam; feudalism; medieval agriculture; and the crusades. Topics in Asian Empires include the Tang Dynasty in China, the Mongol Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. The History of Music is a broad survey class examining the history of Western music from Hildegard of Bingen to Bernstein and Jimi Hendrix. The afternoon American history class complete the survey of American history started in tenth grade. This course also incorporates a research paper writing assignment. Students are responsible for researching, drafting, editing and supporting a twenty-five page research paper on a topic relevant to the course of their choice. The class continues the study of American history, starting with the revolutionary war, proceeding through westward expansion, the Civil War post-Civil War period and concluding at the end of the nineteenth century.

At the end of their eleventh grade year, the students are offered elective courses. Depending on the interests of the class the options sometimes include a historical study.

There are two twelfth grade history main lesson blocks: the History of Architecture, and Italy, Silk and Spice. In the History of Architecture block students explore the development of human consciousness as it is represented in Egyptian, Classical Greek, Roman, Gothic, Baroque, Neo-Classical, and Modern architecture. Eastern influences from Islam, India and East Asia are also included. The Italy, Silk and Spice main lesson block has five segments: a quick review of major events in western history; an introduction to the history and culture of highly significant non-western nations; the historic silk trade from Venice to China; preparation for the 10-day class journey to Italy; and the Italian trip itself. Throughout the course students consider issues surrounding global economics of the past and present. Specific preparation for the Italy trip includes the study of topics designed to heighten awareness of the relationship between artists, scientists, the papacy and merchants during the Renaissance. The journey to Rome, Orvieto, Florence and Venice gives the students rich opportunities to savor beautiful art, consider the history of science and religion, and reflect on the dynamics of trade and currency.

Teachers: Denise McCauley, Robert Black, Siân Owen-Cruise, Brent Schulte


Beginning from the premise that the whole of humanity is knit together in a global economy, the students investigate the economic activities of production, exchange, and consumption and the concomitant rise of capital. Capital’s importance in allowing the expression of human capacities is central to discussions. In addition to a practical understanding of accounting, taxes and credit, a history of economic thought is presented. With an emphasis on ethical social responsibility, students are led to recognize and question the societal forces and values that currently regulate human relations within the economic sphere. This class is taught in the twelfth grade.

Teachers: Katie Andrews

Civics, Politics, and Law

Civics, politics, and law is split into two classes. The first class, in eleventh grade, focuses on the American system of government as well as the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens. Topics include federalism, the role of the three branches of government, and political checks and balances. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights is discussed in detail. The second class, in twelfth grade, completes the civics curriculum with a focus on the American political process and the American legal process. Topics examined include state and local government, the political process, elections, taxation policies, the constitution, criminal law, tort law, consumer law and some constitutional law. Each year the class also takes up subjects currently important such as national elections, state controversies and related topics in the news.

Teachers: Annemarie Hohman