Ted Collins has been teaching Honors Social Studies 9 and Modern European History at Monument Mountain High School in Great Barrington, MA since 1996. In addition to teaching he has coached both cross country and track for the past 18 years.
In both the Honors Social Studies and European History novel classes, students use short stories and works of nonfiction as points of departure to explore social studies in a deep and nuanced way. Each unit explores multiple topics of history, politics, economics, philosophy, and sociology in relation to the ‘story’ they are currently reading. By using the story-based method, students begin to see the interplay of all aspects of social studies in developing a social narrative and (it is hoped) they can begin to see how their understanding of the world has been created. Once they begin to engage in these metacognitive processes, they begin to form their own theses and are forced to refine their thoughts both verbally and in writing. At Monument Mountain, students are constantly encouraged to use the class material to refine how they feel the world ‘ought to be’. By engaging in topics deeply, by testing student beliefs, and by encouraging individual expression, the story-based approach helps students to tackle social challenges with thought, empathy and courage.