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Social Studies is probably the most mentally stimulating subject of middle school. Middle school students are usually mature enough, and their reading skills are sufficient to read books well beyond their grade level. They should be encouraged to read college texts and books intended for adults on this subject. They should also be encouraged to do extensive online research, and create term papers similar to college term papers. Urge students to go beyond their current thinking and explore all aspects of a topic. Approach controversial topics and encourage students to research both sides, to gain an understanding of multifaceted issues.
Unfortunately public school Social Studies curriculum has moved into a direction which many feel compromises academic standards. This is forcing interested parents to teach at home as a supplement to modern curriculum. There is a debate raging about what should be taught in Social Studies and many feel academic interests are being compromised. Parents and students must compensate as necessary in order to attain a full education in this subject.
American schools teach American History at least half as much as any other social studies subject matter. Emphasis is very heavy on understanding every aspect of America’s relatively short history. It is important for middle school students to explore the Constitution and fully understand the Bill of Rights, as well as the Declaration of Independence. It is also important to ensure students understand the geography of the U.S.A and be aware of the locations of all the states. They should have at least an overview of all important historical periods and events not only in isolation, but also in the context of world history. A good American History
Middle School Students should be students of world history, culture and current events, as well as American history and culture. They should be aware of all major cultures and societies, including but not limited to China, Japan, India, Africa, South America, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK.
Understanding ancient history and culture is vital to understanding history. Ignoring ancient history is like reading only the last one hundred pages of a long book. Current events and American history make no sense without this important preface. A large part of ancient history is learning how and why different cultures developed in different ways, and yet all had certain common elements. Discussing such topics as the development of currency, the evolution of government, and the elements a society needed to grow and flourish are vital to understanding how modern society came to exist, and continues to thrive. Students should also be introduced to the art and architecture of ancient cultures such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, and India. They should be well versed in Greek and Roman culture and history.
European history is vastly ignored by the American public school system, yet only in light of European history does American history even make sense. Students should understand the religious persecution that drove their ancestors out of Europe, the connections between France and our Revolutionary and Civil War and Westward Expansion. They should also be aware of how UK colonialism has impacted more recent world events including India’s recent rise to power, Ireland’s troubled history, and the situation in South Africa. Students should also be made aware of the evolution of art, architecture and culture in western society.
Students should have a firm understanding of the background of current events. They should always be able to research the reasons why things occur, going back as many years as necessary to determine the cause and effect of world events and conditions. The art of online research is a powerful tool, and one that should be taught as early as possible. Teach children to reason out the various aspects of every issue and to be able to take an objective look at all sides of an issue.
Social Studies is a powerful tool in teaching thinking skills, logic, and human behavior. It can also aid in proficiency of other subjects, especially different writing styles, including objective journalism, creative writing, editorials, and especially research papers. The following resources will provide many online text books, and helpful information, however students should be encouraged to explore the web, and do online research in order to gain understanding on specific issues that concern them.