On September 17, Constitution Day, history teacher Sarah Palomo and I journeyed to Faneuil Hall in Boston, where we heard Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon Wood and MIT history professor Pauline Maier discuss the history of the ratification of the United States Constitution. We came away enlightened and excited, especially when these two eminent historians agreed to do a similar program at Groton School next fall. However, I was also a bit sad. Listening to Wood’s and Maier’s brilliant and often amusing descriptions of the hopes, dreams, and foibles of the United States’ founding fathers reminded me of how much fun it can be to teach American history, something that I am unable to do this year due to sectioning needs. Teaching American history during a Presidential election year is especially rewarding, and this year’s teachers of American history, Sarah, John Lyons, and John Tyler, are busy incorporating into their classes many aspects of the election, such as watching debates and reviewing the latest election news.
From our perches on the east side of the Schoolhouse, the members of the History Department also continue to help Groton students learn about the broader world. Students in The World and The West course will be taught the essential history of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, as well as the relationship between the West and the non-Western world. Our elective offerings in modern Chinese history, modern Middle Eastern history, modern Indian history, and international relations also reflect our hope that our students acquire knowledge of societies beyond our borders as well as a global perspective that will help them succeed in an increasingly interconnected world.
I am privileged to have rotated into the job of head of the History Department this year. My predecessor, John Lyons, and his predecessor, John Tyler, did a tremendous job of maintaining high standards of teaching and scholarship, as well as fostering collegiality and professional development in the department. As I learn the ins and outs of running a department—managing budgets, meeting with other department heads, etc.—I hope to continue to support my colleagues in keeping Groton School’s history curriculum popular, forward-thinking, and productive, all while staying focused on the most exciting aspect of our jobs—teaching our terrific students.