Beginning in the middle years, our social studies-based program focuses on one period of history for an entire school year. We firmly believe that this in-depth approach to learning helps children develop a multifaceted understanding of history. Social studies encompasses geography, archeology, sociology, philosophy, economics, religion, politics, and art in an attempt to understand what people believed and how they conducted their lives. Investigation into these areas is skillfully guided by the teachers but also driven by the interests of the children themselves, borne from their questions and pursuant research.
Throughout the Middle and Upper School years, past cultures are thoroughly explored through the eyes of Native American Indians, American immigrants and pioneers, Ancient Greeks, and those living during the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Trips to historic sites and museums, first-hand accounts such as journals, diaries and newspapers, plus literature from and about the period being studied provide rich source materials for research.
The process of learning from firsthand experiences remains at the heart of the Middle and Upper School Program. For example, to culminate their study of westward expansion, the 9s embark on a week-long country trip that replicates the daily life of travelers on the Oregon Trail, complete with a Conestoga wagon they make themselves. The ultimate goal is for the children to become so involved in their study of a specific period that they will know “in their bones” what it was like to be a person living in that time.
Specials become an integral part of the weekly routine, providing the children not only with multisensory modes of learning and the skills intrinsic to each discipline, but also the opportunity to express the information they are acquiring through their social studies research in the classroom.
As children progress through the Upper School (grades six through eight), their work demands greater independence in both thought processes and personal responsibilities, and more emphasis is placed on developing abstract thinking skills. Teachers create activities in which children form an opinion and defend it in written and oral presentations, see the cause and effect of an historical event, and predict an outcome for a similar situation today.
When children graduate from City and Country School, they understand at a core level how to pursue their curiosity about life, and they have the confidence to do so. They have developed a love for learning and the self-motivation to succeed. Empowered by their experiences as fully vested members of the School community, City and Country graduates become active members of their future school communities and ultimately of the world at large.