History and Social Science

The History & Social Science Department promotes and supports a culturally sustaining, anti-oppressive, rigorous curriculum that deepens students’ analytical skills, cultivates historical curiosity, and promotes informed civic engagement. Students learn to be critical consumers and producers of different sources of information. They also read and analyze evidence and different perspectives to support arguments in writing, discussion, and decision-making. Our courses also give students a solid understanding of human rights and our responsibilities as global citizens. Students learn to listen generously and develop empathy for people from various backgrounds and contexts. They apply their knowledge of history and the social sciences to take informed, authentic action towards a more equitable world.

Since 2018, the department has partnered with the Democratic Knowledge Project (DKP) at Harvard University’s Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Ethics. The partnership was originally established to create a new 8th grade civics course. It has since expanded to include new comparative societies and religions units for 6th and 7th grade social studies. During the 2020-21 school year, Coordinator Adrienne Stang was a Fellow-in-Residence at the Center, where she collaborated with the DKP to create new curriculum on indigenous sovereignty for grades 3, 4 and 5, and to revise a 5th grade unit. The 5th grade unit, titled Expanding Liberty, offers students opportunities to connect the principles of the Declaration of Independence with later struggles from freedom and justice, including abolition, indigenous sovereignty, and women’s rights. You can read about the CPS-DKP approach to teaching about enslavement in grade 5 in this piece in Education Next, written by Stang and Danielle Allen, a CPS parent, Director of the Center for Ethics, and a James Bryant Conant University Professor. The department also partners with Facing History and Ourselves, Primary Source, and Discovering Justice.

Civic Mindset Survey
Only 32% of U.S. adults feel pride in the American political system. 1 in 4 young people believe “choosing leaders through free elections” is unimportant. Fewer than 30% of people under the age of 40 consider it essential to live in a democracy compared to 70% for generations born before World War II.

In 2018, MA passed legislation requiring a year-long civics course in every 8th grade classroom and the completion of student-led civics projects in 8th grade and high school.

We want our young people to believe democracy is essential and to feel confident that they have the knowledge, capacities and skills they need to participate in civic life. To monitor our progress in accomplishing this goal, we will check in with young people annually from grades 3 through 10 to see how well we are doing at developing three key civic dispositions: civic self-confidence, civic reciprocity, and civic self-care.

The Civic Mindset Survey should take between 5 and 10 minutes and will be housed in students’ ClassLink login via Panorama. It will be translated into the five main languages. Please see questions here: grades 3-5 and grades 6-10.

This survey will help us to understand how our students see themselves as members of our constitutional democracy.

More Info
–Follow us on Twitter: @cpshistory

–Teachers in Cambridge Public Schools can access the curriculum by clicking here.

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