Academic Insights: TCS Social Sciences Department

Geography students dig for dinos!

Two new members were welcomed into the social science fold at Trinity College School in the fall of 2017. Melissa Papp, a former residential assistant in 2015-2016 who also spent that year working in the Junior School, returned to TCS as a faculty intern after enjoying a year in Australia and getting married. Greg MacPherson was a late summer acquisition who fills many needs in the department. As a seasoned veteran with experience working in several independent schools, Greg brings a wealth of knowledge to Grade 10 History and Grade 12 Philosophy, and he has resurrected Advanced Placement Comparative Politics after a brief hiatus. Greg also teaches Grade 12 Science and occupies his co-curricular time helping students ply their craft in two of his own passions: improv and debating.

The third floor of the W.A. Johnson Classroom Block is currently benefitting from fresh coat of paint, which should brighten spirits as we enter the heart of the academic year. The social sciences department incorporates an open-door approach wherein teachers are encouraged to walk into each other’s classrooms to sample portions of daily lessons. It adds to a collegial atmosphere and it is always gratifying to see students passionately engaged in different curricula.

A brief glimpse of the activities involves the following:

In Grade 12 International Business Fundamentals, students are currently role playing the position of one of Canada’s Trade Commissioners and the topic is foreign investment. Students are tasked with creating a short promotional video highlighting the benefits of investing in Canada. In Canadian history, students have been actively engaged in researching and creating unit summatives that incorporate the School’s valuable archives materials. Greg MacPherson has worked in concert with school archivist and history teacher, Renée Hillier, to digitize valuable materials for the students to uncover the boys’ experiences during WWI and WWII. Mr. MacPherson has created stunning websites that incorporate each era in the School’s history. Students taking the Grade 11 Geography: Forces of Nature course became paleontologists for a day and went digging for dinos, and in Grade 9 Geography, classes are about to go mining for diamonds! And once again, the Grade 11 World Religions classroom is scheduled to be transformed into a temporary yoga studio so that students can benefit from some experiential learning and hopefully relieve some stress and anxiety in the process.

January and February are reading and writing intensive months in the social sciences and it is worth reminding parents to have conversations with their adolescent children about the academic supports that are always available to students at TCS. In addition to daily academic assistance, students are encouraged to avail themselves of the Writing Centre that focuses on developing one’s ability to plan, organize, write and revise academic papers in any subject. The early submission policy is another fantastic way to get specific feedback from one’s subject teacher before submitting an assignment for marks. The benefits from regularly taking advantage of these provisions are obvious.

It is hard to believe that January is already here and term one is quickly coming to a close. Much has already been accomplished in the social sciences, and there is even more to look forward to in the New Year.

- By Mr. Blair Keiser, head of social sciences