When it comes to research and writing at The Field School, the crowning jewel has always been the History 11 research paper. Completed in the fall of junior year, this 10-page paper is the culmination of our students’ research and writing skills. But for some, it’s just not enough. Maybe they could use one more shot at refining those skills; maybe they just love research and writing. No matter the reason, this year we’ve come up with a solution: Global Narratives.
Global Narratives—the exploration of the world’s stories—is our brand new, research-based History elective aimed at bolstering students’ confidence in research and writing. This course provides an interesting blend of independent work and communal study. Together, students brush up on the basics of a good research paper: writing a thoughtful research question, outlining the structure of an argument, creating a bibliography, and writing a literary review. They then take these skills—along with thorough independent research—and produce some truly astounding pieces of work.
The fall semester features three long-form research papers. To get the writing wheels turning, the first two papers were written in easily digestible chunks. Students research and write each chunk independently, but then come together in a roundtable setting to present their work and receive peer feedback.
The third and final paper of the semester is very independent. With only three weeks to write, this is a culmination of the skills learned at the beginning of the semester. By this point, students are thinking: ‘I can produce an essay in a short period of time and I can do it well.’
The spring features one long research project—writing a paper, planning a presentation, and perhaps even a creating a TED talk. Throughout the semester students will look at different presentation styles and different ways of doing primary source analysis, and the result will be an amazing, capstone project.
“Global Narratives provides students with the necessary structured classroom time with peers,” explains Georgia Warner, Global Narratives teachers and History Department Chair, “but gives them enough space to develop independently and delve into their own academic passions and interests.”
What are students writing about?
Well, so far we’ve seen all sorts of topics: Japanese history through their cuisine, comparisons of afterlife mythology in various cultures, the science of mermaids, human rights in the circus, medicinal tattooing, and why we should no longer support the Olympics. One student is turning this semester’s papers into a three-part series exploring the idea of military brutality through the eyes of the samurai, the Vikings, and the Iroquois. The topics are varied, unique and interesting!