The social studies curriculum is the common thread that runs through the entire educational program at Manhattan Country School. It provides a forum for students and teachers to explore the social values on which the school was founded. The social studies program upholds MCS’ commitment to social justice and equality, and its appreciation for diverse perspectives and different experiences. The curriculum draws on every classroom activity and discipline—block building, graphing, geography and mapping, creative writing, literature, science, dramatics and art. Trips, oral histories, films, textbooks, newspapers, electronic media and the internet are all part of the rich mix of resources through which students learn about their world. Social studies is viewed as the understanding of lived experience, and, as a result, parents, grandparents and friends are historians who are invited to share their stories and perspectives with students.
The social studies curriculum starts with the individual child’s experience and builds outward to reflect the expansion of the student’s world. Study of the interaction of diverse cultures becomes a strong, integrating force that reveals the commonalities in the human condition. For example, MCS’ youngest students, the 4-5s, visit their classmates’ homes to better understand their peers and themselves. As students grow and learn, they are encouraged to engage with contemporary issues such as the war in the Middle East and the Syrian refugee crisis, and to participate in social justice movements, fostering a commitment to social responsibility and support of human rights.
Through the social studies curriculum, students hone skills such as note taking, critical reading, library and online research, computer literacy, and creative and expository writing. Older students use the skills they have developed over the years to write an analytical research paper.