Doing the Work of Historians

11th grade US History teacher Pete Bonds has long been puzzled with some aspects of traditional history instruction: “We ask math students to do math, like mathematicians; we ask science students to do science, as if they are scientists. But then when they get to history class, we ask them to memorize a bunch of facts. Why aren’t we asking our students to do the work of historians?”

That query was the driving force behind a project recently completed by Mr. Bonds’ second period class. Mr. Bonds reflected that teaching about slavery has long been challenging. The impersonal lists of facts and numbers don’t provide a sense of the lived experience of so many millions. To bridge that divide, his students dug deep into the slave narratives compiled by the Federal Writers Administration in the 1930s.

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The Ten Commandments of Writing: How to Write Well

Since I arrived at Blue Ridge about four years ago, my educational philosophy has shifted dramatically. When I first entered the classroom as a fresh-faced young twenty-something, I cared deeply about content. I had visions of turning my students into lovers of history, one fascinating anecdote at a time.

Fast-forward a few years, and very much has changed. I still love history for the sake of content — of course I do, that is why I am a history teacher. But my students might not, and that is okay; almost all of them will go onto careers in which those facts and stories do not have any immediate relevance. The real purpose of teaching history in a 21st century classroom is not necessarily to pass on information that anyone can Google in the blink of an eye — instead, I see my most sacred duty as teaching your children how to write well.

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College Road Trip

With spring break on the horizon, most of the boys are looking forward to time away from campus, hopefully better weather, and a chance to relax after the long winter trimester. For juniors however, I recommend they use the upcoming spring break as a chance to visit college campuses. The college visit is one of the most important ways that students can learn firsthand what a college offers.

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How the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act can help fund private secondary schools like BRS.

While most of us are still sorting out exactly how the new tax law will affect our families, the general consensus is that more than 90 percent of American taxpayers will pay less in taxes in 2018.

As such, many in the independent school community hope these changes will give families access to new discretionary income that could be used for their children’s tuition and fees.

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Making the Most of Your Summer

As we enter a new year, and having just kicked off the month of January, you might be thinking it is too early to begin thinking and planning your summer. However, now is the time that many colleges and organizations start publicizing and sharing opportunities for high school students – such as summer internships, weeklong intensive programs and immersion courses. These opportunities help students become more familiar with a subject, figure out their own strengths and interests, earn college credit, and even experience college firsthand by taking college courses and living on a college campus.

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Trip to Haiti

Blue Ridge School made its first visit to St. Peter’s School in Berault, Haiti, exactly one year ago. This past November, Aaron O’Donnell ‘18 and Wai Kwan Ng ‘19, accompanied by teachers Mr. Evan Graber and I, gave up part of their Thanksgiving break to visit St. Peter’s.

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