The History of History during this Academic School Year (3 of 4)

Looking Back in Order to Move Forward

~ Brandon Grunden, Upper School Humanities Teacher, History

In our last trimester of this school year I found myself in a time period I’ve taught the most in my 5 years of teaching while also staying in Early Modern World History and Christian Heritage, which ran over the course of two trimesters. Teaching Greco-Roman history is like coming home for me; this was the time period I taught during my student teaching experience. I do feel that my approach is getting better every year and am thankful for having so much time invested into that subject. As the second trimester gave way to the third trimester in World History and Christian Heritage, we found ourselves studying the cause and effects of the Industrial Revolution before getting out Charles Dickens and reading A Tale of Two Cities while studying the French Revolution.

Third Trimester:

Greco-Roman History, “The Blood Escaping Man”

When learning Greco-Roman history we immerse ourselves in Greek Mythology. In fact, the stories of the Iliad and Odyssey become the backbone of this course as we begin our study of Greece and Rome with the Minoans and Mycenaeans and work all the way through to the fall of the Roman Empire. By the end of The Wanderings of Odysseus, students have spent so much time with this character, that, as they are flipping through the final pages, they are both excited and nervous for what is in store for Odysseus as he finally makes his way into his kingdom disguised as a beggar, 20 years after leaving. These stories also help to provide context into the war-like nature of the Spartans and, to a lesser extent, the Athenians. These stories are what the educated masses in the Greek city-states would have been reading. These stories also reflect why the Greeks, even in differing city-states, approached their lives with a sense of honor, courage, and xenia (ancient Greek concept of hospitality). We also read other Greek myths as a way to show how the Greeks viewed the gods and the role the gods played in the lives of the Greeks. Students are also amazed by the fact that elements of math and science as we know it today come from the Greeks, as does philosophy, theater, architecture, and democracy. Unfortunately, by the time we get to Rome, there isn’t a whole lot of time to get as deep into Rome as we do Greece. Thankfully, students learn a lot of Roman culture in their Latin classes.

World History and Christian Heritage I (Age of Exploration – Pre-WW I), “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

The French Revolution becomes the lynchpin of the second trimester in this history course. Of course, we turn to Dickens and his novel, A Tale of Two Cities, as a way to add a sense of the personal to the broad view of the historical. His references to the instrument of the Reign of Terror as La Guillotine and The National Razor personify the time period and make it all the more terrible. Thus, it is no wonder that when choosing how they wanted to approach their end of the unit assignment, most students chose to create a guillotine. As I write this, there is a 5-foot tall guillotine staring me down in my classroom. Not only does Dickens’ novel provide personal stories, it also provides very relevant themes for us to break down and discuss both at the beginning and the end of the novel.  

Prior to the French Revolution, we spent time, mostly through simulations (though not enough of them), learning about the Industrial Revolution and discussing what progress and growth look like and what the human and environmental consequences were as a result.  Finally, with regard to the Industrial Revolution, we looked at how 19th century Europeans responded to the demands of the Industrial Revolution and what impact those responses would have on other, and future, events. And, though it was short lived, we spent time in South America in learning about their Independence movements in the 19th century. We also read about and discussed the plight of serfs in Russia along with Russia’s late move to an industrial society leading to that fertile ground for the seed of a misguided form of Marxism to take root at the turn of the 20th century.

This wraps up the last post for the history courses taught for the 2016-2017 school year. I will follow up with a post about my final reflections on the school year but I hope that you have enjoyed reading about what has taken place in history class this year. I know I have enjoyed reflecting on teaching this past year and am looking forward to hitting the ground running in late August.

Meet Mr. D: NoBo4Logos

Jonathan Desmarais, Upper School teacher, is embarking on a second summer of hiking the Appalachian Trail!

Subjects that Mr. D has taught at Logos over the past 5 years:

  • 7th Grade Christian Literature
  • 8th Grade Medieval/Renaissance Literature
  • 9th Grade British Literature
  • 10th Grade Modern World Literature
  • 11th Grade American Literature
  • 12th Multicultural American Literature
  • 7th Grade Logic I, History of Hip-Hop, Chess, and 8th Grade Brain Games

I was born and raised in New Hampshire, attended Messiah College, and graduated in 2007 with a degree in church music. I am a cellist. I began to teach reading at a small private school in Harrisburg, and through that experience, I fell in love with literature through the writings of Kurt Vonnegut. Although not a Christian, he was very committed to the pursuit of social justice and he did so in a very provocative, simple, and funny way, which greatly appealed to me. The writing of Kurt Vonnegut spurred my thirst for literature.

While at Messiah, very early on, I lost my faith. Everything that I assumed about Christianity proved to be meaningless and inconsequential. But through that loss of my faith, I started to realize what being a Christian was all about. I truly discovered for the first time what it meant to live out the Gospel and live my life like Christ. Through this life changing time in my life, I realized that I had a deep desire to live my life committed to the pursuit of social justice.

It is out of this desire to pursue social justice that I have committed my life as an educator. After teaching at a private school in Harrisburg for four years that was dedicated to ending the cycle of poverty through education I was searching for a school with a similar mission but with a more holistic approach, and this search brought me to find Logos.

It is my desire as a teacher at Logos to help shape my students desires to pursue things of beauty, truth, and goodness. I am inspired daily by my students as we encounter and wrestle with challenging literature. Some of my favorite moments as a teacher are when students challenge me in my analysis of literature. For the past two years, I have had the privilege to design and teach a new course for 12th Grade: Multicultural American Literature. In this class, we discuss challenging topics and issues that we as peacemaker Christians are called to wrestle with: intersectionality, racial and ethnic social consciousness, privilege and power, sexism, racism, ageism, (and other forms of discrimination), traumatic migration experiences, etc. I have greatly enjoyed reading some challenging literature (Between the World and Me, Citizen: An American Lyric The Dew Breaker, The Souls of Black Folks, The House on Mango Street, short stories of Sherman Alexie, Passing, The Joy Luck Club) with my 12th Grade students as we have wrestled with these topics. For me, this is what it means to be a Christian, as we pursue peace.

In the past few years, I’ve gone through some very challenging times in my personal life. As I’ve worked through these times, with lots of prayers and support of friends, I was very intentional about forcing myself to wrestle with my thoughts and hiking provided the perfect opportunity to do so. What else can you do, but think, when you are hiking for 15 hours straight? In the fall of 2016, I hiked 199 miles of the Appalachian Trail in the state of PA and through this, I fell in love with the Appalachian Trail, its history, and its culture. As I hiked, I came to realize that I had the opportunity to combine two of my passions: teaching my students at Logos and hiking.

Last summer, I embarked on something that I had never done before. I hiked 832.1 miles of the Appalachian Trail, from the trail’s southern terminus, Springer Mountain in Georgia, to the Tye River in Virginia. In the process, I hiked through four states, wore out two pairs of shoes, wore and lost three pairs of sunglasses, and ate way too many Snickers bars. Prior to this journey, the longest backpacking trip I had ever done was a 3.5 day, 74 mile hike of the Ocala National Forest in Florida. Needless to say, my 61 day hike through the southern Appalachian mountains taught me many things about life and about myself.

I overcame many personal fears. Overcoming fear happens quickly when you encounter a total of 13 bears! I met and developed relationships with other hikes from around the United States and the world. But more importantly, I was able to experience and fully immerse myself in the beauty of God’s creation, while sharing the Logos story.

As I set out again this summer on the Appalachian Trail, hiking from the Delaware Water Gap, on the PA/NJ border, to Hanover, NH, I hope to take my students’ stories with me, sharing and representing the vibrant learning community known as Logos Academy.


“So It Goes”

Join Mr.D as he takes this journey. Stay tuned for ways you can support and encourage Mr.D during NoBo4Logos.

If you would like to make a donation, please click the button below and indicate #NoBo4Logos on the giving page.

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A Place for Learning and Leisure

Jonathan Desmarais • Logos Academy Upper School Literature and Lead Teacher

“If you are losing your leisure, look out! It may be that you are losing your soul.” -Virginia Woolf

In his 1835 text De la démocratie en Amérique, commenting on the development of American society, the French writer Alexis de Tocqueville was perplexed by Americans’ incessant restlessness in the midst of constant prosperity. He describes an individual that is always striving for the betterment of oneself and the ones that he/she loves. He found that through hard work, ingenuity, and education, in the pursuit of happiness, Americans largely are unhappy. He concludes that “he who has set his heart exclusively upon the pursuit of worldly welfare is always in a hurry, for he has but a limited time at his disposal to reach, to grasp, and to enjoy it.”

Over the past hundred years or so, American education has adopted many of the same principles guided by the pursuit of “worldly welfare”, embracing quantitative output and high test scores. While these goals are certainly worthy pursuits, they do not however, help shape the entire student in a holistic sense. We as a society have become very good at developing individuals that work hard to receive high grades, to get into a good college, to get a high-paying job, to purchase a nice home, and to ultimately pass this tradition on to our children. However, we as a society, have failed to develop individuals who are guided by the pursuit of beauty, truth, and goodness; the key ingredients to living a fulfilling and happy life.

At Logos Academy, we can certainly boast of our students’ high academic achievement, however this is not our ultimate desire. Logos Academy is a place for learning, but it is also a place for leisure. The Greek word for leisure is “scholé,” from which we get the English word “school.” It is our desire at Logos Academy to create a vibrant community that takes a holistic approach to student learning, using the innate God-given senses of wonder and curiosity to produce individuals that are driven by the lifelong pursuit of learning; a learning that seeks to explore and worship God’s creation.

First time visitors to Logos Academy often comment that our students are happy and joyful in their learning, and this is certainly no coincidence. As the Upper School lead teacher it is my privilege and joy to share with you some highlights of what our students have been doing in their classrooms over the past few weeks and months that embody the spirit of scholé.

Incorporating the skills they have been developing in their Rhetoric Class, the 6th Grade have been interviewing family members and friends in order to write their own autobiographies.  Stay tuned as the students will be presenting their finished autobiographies to their peers and Lower School students in early February. Recently, students in Ms. Gilda Hein’s Spanish I and the Intro to Spanish courses prepared a Quinceañera celebration, complete with authentic Spanish food, music, games, and decorations.

Experiential learning and community engagement is a major focus of a Logos education. Recently the 6th and 7th Grade choir under the direction of Ms. Christine Musser performed for the Rotary Club of York at the Yorktowne Hotel. In addition, two Logos students in the Class of 2017 were honored by the Rotary Club as they were selected as Students of the Month. Congratulations Kauna and Deon! In Mr. Michael Hornbaker’s Christian Heritage Course, the Class of 2018 have made use of the various historic churches that are located in downtown York. They have been in dialogue with various church leaders as they experienced some of the most aesthetically beautiful sacred spaces that York City has to offer.

Lastly, as the Upper School Literature teacher, I am proud to announce that Liesl Krauss, from the Class of 2019 represented Logos Academy at the regional Poetry Out Loud Competition in Gettysburg in early February after winning the schoolwide competition in November. Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition in which high school students are judged on their physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, and evidence of understanding. At the school competition she gave some fantastic performances of Eleanor Wilner’s “Without Regret” and “The Enigma” by Anne Stevenson. At the regional competition she will also be reciting “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth.

I could certainly continue on for many pages about the many wonderful things that occur on a daily basis in the Upper School at Logos Academy. Tune in next time to read about more ways that Logos students have embraced scholé in their pursuit of beauty, truth, and goodness.

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