For the past few years, when students wanted to go sign up for Ai??social studies electives, they realized something: there were not many to choose from.
Aware of this problem, Stroudsburg High School’s students and staff decided to do something about it, and they succeeded . For the 2015-2016 school year, three new history class appeared in Stroudsburgai??i??s Program of Studies: Methods in Research, Minorities in America, and Pop Culture.
“I feel like history was sort of left out by the school board,” said senior Mollie Strunk, who enrolled in Pop Culture. ai???With [the School Board] lowering the credit requirement for it, and having such a limited selection of classes before these ones were added. It’s good to finally see more variety in the classes available.”
In 2013, the school board lowered the history requirement from four credits to three. The result was upsetting. Many social studies teachers such as Mr. Thomas Kurnas and department head Mr. Shawn Thornton wanted to do something about it.
ai???We threw it open to the whole social studies department,ai??? said Thornton. ai??? We wanted to get classes that would appeal to students and enable us to meet state standards.ai???
The new history classes are unique because they encourage discussion and critical thinking. The courses also emphasize technology in a way that has eliminated the need for purchasing costly textbooks.
ai???They are more modernized,ai??? said senior Naya Santiago, who is enrolled in Pop Culture. ai??? I enjoy learning about this [instead of ] past history because I found that kind of boring.ai???
Many students, yearning for an interesting take on history, rushed to sign up for these classes. Each of the classes bring something new to the social studies department.
Methods in Research, taught by Thornton, is a class devoted to helping students develop their research skill by encouraging them to research topics that interest them.
In Minorities in America, students learn about different minority groups in the United States. Kurnas teaches the course, and he also helped create the curriculum for this course and Pop Culture.
ai???The goal is to make the stories of these different groups more known to the average student,ai??? said Kurnas. ai???The mainstream is important but depending on who you are, the story should be different and that [story] should be known.ai???
Pop Culture Ai??helps students learn about Pop Culture through the years and its effects on society. A day in Pop Culture class can shift from talking about women’s role in the media to reviewing Donald Trumpai??i??s Halloween costumes. Ai??Kurnas says that when making the class syllabus, he looked at the syllabusai??i?? of other schools that offered it and made his own adaptations.
ai???I looked at what I could find and what could be done with pop culture. I took ideas that I did with American history and mixed those.ai??? said Kurnas.
The new history classes are a very welcome addition, according to many students and staff. Ai??The departmentai??i??s progressive philosophy appears to be one of the keys to the success of the courses thus far.
ai???For me it represents change,ai???said Thornton. ai???There needs to be an awful lot of change in education, and this class shows what that change should be,ai???
For now, many students are enjoying the fact that they can take classes that dig deeper, and challenges them to think on their own. Fustel de Coulange once said that ai???History studies not just facts and institutions, its real subject is the human spirit.ai???