Social Studies is primarily a history program. But this history will be presented and explored not just in historical terms but also, necessarily, in terms of other social science disciplines, namely:
1. Geography, Topography, Ecology—how the geography of the U.S. has affected the culture and history of the country as a whole, and how the geography of different regions has affected those regions. The course will examine American history through the five themes of geography: location, place, human-environment interaction, movements, and regions.
2. Economics, Economy—how Americans have been meeting their basic needs and wants.
3. Political science, Law, Government—how they have governed and been governed.
4. Culture—the aggregate of beliefs, ideas, values, and behaviors which endow a person, and concomitantly a people, with a particular perspective on life and living; the study of which would encompass the subject matter of the three disciplines above, and include religion, philosophy, and anthropology.
As the history program progresses, the student’s ability to identify and analyze the manifestation of certain historical/social science themes should be progressing as well. Drawing themes out of the topic content regularly will give greater meaning, continuity, and cohesiveness to the flow of material being presented to or researched by the student. The themes should emerge naturally from each unit’s topical content. Some of the major historical/social science themes are:
- Continuity and change
- Culture; Environment
- Individual identity
- Role of groups and institutions
- Power, authority, and governance
- Production, distribution, and consumption
- Technology and its impact on the human experience
- Civic ideals and practices.
The objectives of the U.S. History program are two. The first objective is to develop and deepen the student’s conceptual understanding of how our society operates, and how he or she is a part of this society. The second objective is to cultivate certain skills and habits, so that students may achieve the first objective. This objective, then, may be considered the root aim of the U.S. History program.
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