The social studies curriculum allows students to make sense of the world in which they live by understanding themselves and others, learning how people live now, how they lived in the past, and how society developed in different regions of the world. It also gives students an understanding of the importance of environment, religion, philosophy, and beliefs in motivating peoples’ behavior.
Social Studies content objectives are drawn from the state curriculum framework. Students in 7th grade learn about early modern Europe and the Age of Exploration. In 8th grade, students study the birth and early development of the United States. They learn to recognize the American creed of equality and freedom and the basic principles of democracy as defined by the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
Classroom objectives include the mastery of factual information, comprehension of text, research procedures, problem solving, and the development of attitudes and social skills. Activities in social studies classes include reading historical narratives, textbooks and newspaper articles, discussing current and past events, making individual and group presentations, role-playing important historical events, creating timelines, debating political and economic issues, writing outlines, developing summaries, and researching and writing reports.
In 7th Grade, students study the social, cultural, and technological changes that occurred in Europe, Africa, and Asia in the years A. D. 500 to 1789. They study the history and geography of great civilizations that were developing concurrently throughout the world during medieval and early modern times. They examine the growing economic interaction among civilizations as well as the exchange of ideas, beliefs, technologies, and commodities. They learn about the resulting growth of Enlightenment philosophy and the new examination of the concepts of reason and authority, the natural rights of human beings and the divine right of kings, experimentalism in science, and the dogma of belief. Finally, students assess the political forces let loose by the Enlightenment, particularly the rise of democratic ideas, and they learn about the continuing influence of these ideas in the world today.
In 8th Grade, students study the ideas, issues, and events from the framing of the Constitution up to World War I, with an emphasis on America's role in the war. They study the powers of government set forth in the Constitution and the fundamental liberties ensured by the Bill of Rights. Students trace the development of American politics, society, culture, and economy and relate them to the emergence of major regional differences. They learn about the challenges facing the new nation, with an emphasis on the causes, course, and consequences of the Civil War. They make connections between the rise of industrialization and contemporary social and economic conditions.