BFA’s New Course: 21st Century America


Anna Bouchard, Writer

Bellows Free Academy social studies teachers Caitlin Madeiros and Emily Schwartz have taken on the challenge of introducing, and now teaching, a new course at BFA: 21st Century America.

According to Schwartz, this 10th-grade elective course is focused on building reading, writing and thinking skills while providing students with a toolkit of resources that they can use in their future classes. 

“When I was in high school, most of my history classes stopped after the Cold War,” Schwartz said. With years of history not covered in the classroom, she said she found it hard to understand events like 9/11. She said she was never taught about subjects like the United States going into Iraq, so rationalizing the impacts of these events was difficult.

Knowing this, Schwartz and Madeiros focused on creating a curriculum that includes topics not typically covered in school. 

“It can be difficult to see why we learn about history and how it impacts us. Sometimes it’s nice for students when we look at more modern history and explore things that happened recently,” Madeiros said.

According to Schwartz, the class just finished up their 9/11 unit and is now moving into covering modern-day civil rights movements and Supreme Court cases. That being said, student interest dictates a portion of the content covered. “We have a lot of flexibility regarding what we do and how we do it,” Madeiros said. 

Schwartz agreed: “Students have been asking amazing questions and bringing in current events” for their class to discuss. 

Schwartz said that she is excited for the rest of the year and even hopes to transform the semester-long course into a full-year course. Both Madeiros and Schwartz encourage students to pop by and ask them any questions; they’re both excited and willing to answer them.