Curriculum Corner: The Rise of Reason (10th Grade)


The Humanitas Global Studies Academy examines big ideas and global events through the lenses of history, literature, science, and art. The standards-based curriculum that connects these subject areas is a cornerstone of our academy. Each month, we’ll highlight one of these award-winning curricular units and the academic skills it develops.

The 10th grade Humanitas team is concluding its first thematic unit that connects content from the English, World History, and Biology classes by exploring the potential for big ideas to transform society. Students have examined the ideas of Plato and Aristotle (English), philosophers of the Enlightenment (World History), and influential early cell biologists (Biology). Additionally, students have researched the work of modern thinkers and will be presenting a chosen TED Talk in a small group setting at the 9th annual Humanitas Salon in Anderson Hall on Friday, 10/19 during P2. The essay exam assessment is scheduled for Wednesday, 10/24. Best wishes and good luck to all of our sophomore students as they prepare for these events.

-ECR Humanitas

Unit: The Rise of Reason- Transforming Social, Political, and Environmental Paradigms through the Ages
Grade: 10
Subjects: English 10 (Mrs. Owen), World History (Mr. Knadle), Biology (Mr. Sodek)
Timing: Q1

Description of Thematic Unit: The Scientific Revolution, and the subsequent Age of Enlightenment are pivotal periods in human history that included a range of ideas and advancements fundamentally rooted in reason and logic. Influenced by the work of early philosophers, the thinkers and ideas of this new era reveal the cumulative nature of human thought and progress. They transformed society in their time, and serve as pillars of modern social, governmental, and scientific institutions. Philosophical inquiry continues today as modern philosophers, inventors, and experts in their fields challenge intellectual paradigms to meet the demands of a future that evolves in increasingly complex ways.

Description of Project: In a modern interpretation of the salons of the Enlightenment, students will attend the Humanitas Salon and present a TED Talk idea in a small group setting, with each student sharing a TED Talk that has the potential to create positive change in society today. Students are required to use notecards and prepare a visual display board to assist them in their presentation. Students will complete an evaluation form for each speaker.

Interdisciplinary Essay Prompt: The English writer Herbert George Wells wrote, “Human history in essence is the history of ideas.” Write an essay that explains how revolutionary ideas have transformed society throughout history. For each influential idea, be sure to thoroughly explain an individual’s intellectual contribution as well as the impact of the revolutionary idea. Finally, discuss a new transformative idea that has the potential to influence society in positive ways.

Theme-related Essential Questions:

  • In what ways did European Enlightenment thinkers encourage the spread of democratic ideals in America?
  • In what ways have the ideas of the early philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle been both rejected and profoundly influential on modern thought?
  • In what ways is the nature of science cumulative? How does this apply to a concept like cell theory?

Student Learning Outcomes:

At the conclusion of this unit, students will be able to….

  • …identify the core Enlightenment ideals that are central to society and government today.
  • …demonstrate effective communication skills when presenting
  • information verbally to a group.
  • ..identify and evaluate the impact of cell theory as a foundation to modern biology, and the pervasive influence cell theory has had throughout modern society.