To change the future for the better, we must understand our past. As young historians, our middle school students learn that every famous figure throughout history was a person just like them – with complex thoughts, desires, political and social aspirations, and complicated legacies. Students dive into modern countries and governments, diverse cultures and societal structures, and ancient civilizations to become informed, thoughtful, and active citizens. They learn to draw connections between world events, jumping forward and backward through history to find worldwide “ripple effects” and common themes.
Sixth graders learn the foundations of the many complex systems that operate in our country and around the world – including government, religion, economics, civic responsibilities, and more. Equipped with a new understanding of these systems, sixth graders go on to apply this knowledge to a variety of civilizations across the globe and throughout history.
During the course of the year, sixth graders study the peoples of ancient Africa, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Europe, and more! They compare and contrast, finding commonalities and connecting the dots between civilizations. Students also draw connections between the peoples they study and those they have read about in the Tanakh in their Judaic studies classes.
In a collaborative environment, students master critical thinking skills and learn about empathy, placing themselves in the shoes of others from different times and places. They learn about the “ripple effect” and gain a holistic understanding of why and how things happened the way they did – and why they may continue to happen.
U.S. History I begins with a discussion of identity. They learn about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and begin to understand that every famous figure was a human being just like them – one whose decisions were shaped by their place in history, others’ influence on their life, and their own complicated feelings and desires.
Students build on this foundation by studying a wide swath of cultures – from ancient civilizations to the establishment of the United States of America with stops at the Protestant Reformation, the American Revolution, the abolition of slavery, and the Industrial Revolution.
As they study, our students learn to view history as a ripple effect, connecting events around the globe to understand the ways that one event impacts the next. Students work collaboratively on projects, presentations, and written assignments, all of which deepen their understanding of the content and grow their empathy, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills.
Eighth graders tackle “turning points” – events that shaped the United States economically, socially, and politically – from the Reconstruction Era through contemporary America.
Students examine racial and gender inequality, American capitalism, social change, social Darwinism, populism, urbanization, imperialism, Constitutional freedoms, and America’s role in international conflict. Throughout each topic of study, emphasis is placed on cause and effect – students analyze events and draw conclusions as to why and how specific events occurred and how individual people, groups of people, and past events influenced and continue to influence American society today. As they go, students learn to draw connections between past and present events.
In order to gain a clear understanding of specific events and periods, students analyze both primary and secondary sources, conduct independent research, study collaboratively, and engage in debate. This class emphasizes evaluative and critical thinking skills, which develop as the course progresses. By the end of the course, students have a clear understanding of the United States as it currently exists, as well as an understanding of the challenges the country may face in the future.
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