The study of history and social science serves to prepare students to be thoughtful, active participants in our democracy. Through exploration of the United States and its diverse heritage, students develop an understanding of themselves as members of American society. Through exploration of world cultures, students learn the value of cross-cultural inquiry both as an end in itself and as a means of gaining a deeper perspective on their own society.
The two-year program challenges the students to apply their understanding of such basic ideas as political and physical geography to larger ideas of culture development, the evolution of political systems, and current events. Students develop writing skills from identifications and simple five-paragraph essays in Grade Seven, to the writing of hypothesis-proof essays and the construction and presentation of Model UN position papers. Small classes promote the exchange of ideas and the ability to discuss current issues, which sometimes take us beyond the Western Hemisphere. As well as contemporary issues, classes consider relationships over time and space and across cultures and linguistic groups.
The goals of the history program are twofold: to give students the knowledge to make informed judgments and decisions about contemporary issues, and to develop the skills essential in understanding and communicating those ideas. Through all runs the thread that democratic government, for all its difficulties with the politics of inclusion, has been a remarkably resilient and stable system.
This course is composed of several integrated and interrelated units on Latin America, including pre-Columbian history, European contact and conquest, and contemporary Latin America. The goal of the course is to examine the elements that make up social science and history while using Latin America as the focal point to perfect study skills such as reading and note-taking, library and research skills, time management, summarizing and reporting, preparing for tests, writing an essay, and creating websites. The seventh grade study of Latin America culminates with the completion of individual country studies and current event newscasts.
The study of the United States in Grade 8 completes the students’ two-year study of the political and physical geography of the Western Hemisphere. Through topics such as Colonial New England, the U.S. Constitution, and the Model UN Unit, students examine perspectives and the relationships between events in history. These studies are brought together in the Boston Field Trip in May. They learn to recognize bias, debate viewpoints, create hypotheses, and support and communicate ideas logically in both written and spoken words. The final event of the year is the seven-week Model UN adventure, in which students choose countries, write country analyses, select their peer "countries." This simulation is the culmination of many skills explored during students' Middle School History/SS experience.