During their two years in Post Oak’s Integrated History and Social Sciences (IHSS) program, our High School students immerse themselves in an investigation of the self. Students come to understand themselves as adolescent individuals of the genus and species known as Homo sapiens.
Part of this examination includes a look at how all of us are equipped with a specific set of adaptations that have allowed us to exploit and transform our physical environment. With increasing efficiency in the pursuit of survival, procreation, and prosperity over a period of tens of thousands of years, humans have had the most dramatic impact on our planet and in the creation of society as we know it. The IHSS program is an extensive and multi-faceted approach to exploring this impact and creation and is conducted in many formats, such as seminar discussions, reading, engagement with the community, and final projects.
Students first gain a basic grasp of the goals and methods of the social sciences, which give them tools to make sense of the complex events of the twentieth century studied in International Baccalaureate (IB) history. Second, students learn how to conceive, pursue, and complete research projects based on their own interests. This knowledge serves them well in completing the Historical Investigation for IB History and the Extended Essay core requirement for IB.
Using these skills, students look inward at what it means to be an adolescent in society, look outward at the behaviors of the adults in their neighborhood, our nation, and on our planet, and answer the call to take action and make a positive difference.
They do this by completing an active engagement segment and a research paper, which together comprise a final Challenge Project.
Part 1: Engagement
Students engage with the community concerning their individual topic of investigation. This involves reaching out to experts, such as government officials and people who volunteer to improve the community. Students get to know and learn from others’ accomplishments, experiences, and studies. In doing so, students learn how they can engage. After learning from multiple experts, students plan their own actions to make the situation better by bringing awareness to the issue, volunteering, and educating others.
Part 2: Challenge Project/Demonstration
As a final step, students bring the community together in some way. This could be in the form of a volunteer fair, a 90-second pitch to experts, or a round table discussion with slides. During the 2020 spring semester, students used virtual tools to connect with experts, volunteered online, and created slides and infographics to demonstrate their Challenge Project work.
The IHSS curriculum is designed to help students become more aware of their roles as individual members of society, to comprehend the sources and magnitude of suffering and injustice among fellow humans, to learn how humans have organized themselves for the sake of overcoming shared hardships and achieving justice, and finally to gain facility with the ways they—and all of us—can make a difference in the world.
Here is a collection of student work: