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SOCIAL STUDIES CURRICULUM


The curriculum in the Middle School has a dual role: the presentation of information and the guiding of the students’ critical thinking skills from memorization to thoughtful, independent analysis of the material being presented. The curricular content continues to support the liberal arts background that IAS believes to be an integral part of each student’s educational foundation. In early adolescence, students begin to develop analytical thinking skills. Using the material in each course, Middle School teachers challenge their students to support opinions with facts and to question the world in which they live. The purpose is to continue the shaping of responsible young people who will contribute to their society

This course is an introduction to the concepts, terminology, and skills that will assist students in their exploration of history and the other social sciences. It focuses on politics, society, economics, and geography (including map skills) in the context of exploring several world cultures. Materials and books are chosen to stimulate interest and to promote active learning. The American Journey curriculum pairs important works of American literature with historical events of the 20th century, from the Great Depression through contemporary American life. Students explore the American experience from many perspectives — literature, history, art, music, and popular culture — in order to examine important themes such as what it means to be an American, the challenges of a diverse society, the nature of the American Dream, issues of freedom, and the unique qualities of American culture. The History component of this coordinated program builds upon the skills instruction begun in Form I, with special emphasis on organization, note-taking, essay writing, and critical thinking. Topics include the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the Counterculture, and Watergate. The goal is to make students more interested in and knowledgeable about the contemporary world. There are a number of History- English joint projects that employ technology and encourage students to consider the many connections between history and literature. American Journey meets four times each week and sometimes takes advantage of the opportunity to join with the English class for a ninety-minute combined period. A homework assignment is generally due at each class meeting. Homework includes writing assignments as well as reading (textbook and primary sources). Class activities are varied and include lecture, discussion, and student presentations. All tests and analytical papers are announced well in advance, with four or five per semester usually the minimum. Quizzes covering daily material are both announced and unannounced. Comprehensive exams are given at the end of each semester.