Humanities Curriculum Promotes Interdisciplinary Connections

In advance of the 2018-2019 School Year, McClancy’sadministrative team decided to combine four of its Academic Departments into a newly forged Humanities Department. Bringing together the curricula of Religion, English, Social Studies and Modern World Language allowed for robust connections to be made and explored.

Since then, students have been able to see that none of their classes are conducted in isolation. The connections are everywhere. In order to better prepare our students for the New York State Global History and Geography Regents exam, the texts selected in the sophomore English class highlight non-American authors from 1750 to the present. Similarly, our junior English classes use American literature taught chronologically which assists in the student’s study of American History.

When students are learning grammar in their Modern World Language classes, we take an opportunity to strengthen their understanding of English grammar as well. Helping to see how they speak in a myriad of tenses in English helps them to see why there is a need for conjugating differently in Spanish or Italian. Exploring the cultures of Italy and Spanish speaking lands give students a broader perspective of Social Studies.

It’s impossible to remove a text from its historical and social context and that includes religious documents. As a Catholic high school, we feel obligated to have our students examine Sacred Scripture. This practice is being enhanced by the techniques commonly used in English and Social Studies classes. Students can break down the message of a parable in much the same way they would in a novel and poem. We’ve even seen an increase in the appreciation of our Religion classes because of these new lenses we utilize. It has also led to the development of new Religion electives for seniors which include a study of World Religions, Church History and an exploration of Catholic Themes in Art and Film.

While the impact of our Humanities curriculum is visible in the required courses that students take throughout their four years at McClancy, one successful byproduct of this shift is visible in our elective course offerings. For years, we have seen upperclassmen fill their schedules with mostly Science and Business courses. While these options are still popular, we now have students enrolling in Philosophy, Mythology, Creative Writing, Journalism and topical History courses. These new course offerings positively relate to our status as a college preparatory school as it gives students a small taste of the wide range of subjects often explored on university campuses.

Studying the connections between our Religion and Social Studies courses knows no bounds. It is essential to the mission of our school conducted each day in partnership with the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. It is difficult to understand the spirituality of the Brothers and the charism of their founder Father Andre Coindre without considering the bleak environment where their order was born. Post-Napoleonic France provided little in educational and religious opportunities for the young boys of Lyon.

Those first Brothers responded specifically to the needs of their day as we, strive to do for the young people entrusted in our care. Both then and now we seek to establish a sanctuary for our students where they are known, valued and treasured and prepared to face the challenges of our rapidly changing world. Through the study of the Humanities, our educational program has become greater than the sum of its parts.