… social studies instruction does not merely have students repeat information that they have heard or read; rather, it engages them in thinking about ideas, concepts, people, places, events and, yes, even facts.
Mike Yell, “Thinking and Social Studies” (2009)
Social studies is an interdisciplinary subject that draws upon economics, geography, history, law, and politics, as well as some of the subjects in the social sciences and humanities.
The social studies program enables students to investigate various ideas, concepts, and issues using an interdisciplinary approach, giving students an integrated learning experience and leading to a deeper understanding of the interconnections between social, political, economic, and environmental ideas and issues.
The social studies program in Grades 1 to 6 develops students’ understanding of who they are, where they come from, where they belong, and how they contribute to the society in which they live. Students develop a sense of who they are by exploring their identity within the context of various local, national, and global communities in which they participate. Students develop their understanding of where they came from by studying past societies, analysing connections between the past and present, and exploring the contribution of past societies to Canada’s heritage. Students develop their understanding of a variety of Indigenous communities in what would eventually become Canada, both before and after European contact. Students also explore the role that colonialism has played in Canada and the impact it has had on various communities and individuals. They explore where they belong and develop a sense of place by investigating the various spaces – physical, social, cultural – in which they live. Finally, students explore ways in which they can contribute to the society in which they live, developing the knowledge, skills, and attributes they need to be responsible citizens who make a positive contribution to their communities. The program is designed to give students multiple opportunities to learn about and apply the four elements of citizenship (see the citizenship education framework).
In each grade, students enhance their ability to use the concepts of social studies thinking to process content suitable for that grade. They also continually develop skills related to the social studies inquiry process. Students develop their ability to formulate relevant questions; to gather, organize, interpret, and analyse information, data, and evidence from a variety of primary and secondary sources, using various tools and technologies; to extract information from and construct maps and graphs for a variety of purposes; and to formulate and communicate ideas, conclusions, and judgements.
Competent historical thinkers understand both the vast differences that separate us from our ancestors and the ties that bind us to them; they can analyze historical artifacts and documents, which can give them some of the best understandings of times gone by; they can assess the validity and relevance of historical accounts, when they are used to support entry into a war, voting for a candidate, or any of the myriad decisions knowledgeable citizens in a democracy must make. All this requires “knowing the facts”, but “knowing the facts” is not enough. Historical thinking does not replace historical knowledge: the two are related and interdependent.
Peter Seixas, “‘Scaling Up’ the Benchmarks of Historical Thinking” (2008)
History involves the study of diverse individuals, groups, and institutions as well as significant events, developments, and issues in the past. The Grade 7 and 8 history program provides students with an overview of Canadian history, from pivotal events in colonial North America during the early eighteenth century to issues facing a young nation on the eve of World War I. It conveys a sense of the dynamic nature of Canada and of its interconnections with other parts of the world. Students learn that Canada has many stories and that each one is significant and requires thoughtful consideration. They learn about the impact of colonialism, the Indian Act, the residential school system, treaties, and systemic racism on Indigenous individuals and communities in Canada.
Students will develop a way of thinking about history through the application of the concepts of historic thinking. They will also learn how to apply the historical inquiry process, gathering, interpreting, and analysing historical evidence and information from a variety of primary and secondary sources in order to investigate and make judgements about issues, developments, and events of historical importance.
The study of history enables students to appreciate Canadian heritage and identity, the diversity and complexity of Canadian society, and the challenges and responsibilities associated with Canada’s position in the world. In doing so, it helps prepare students to fulfil their role as informed and responsible global citizens. The study of history in Grades 7 and 8 builds on the skills, attitudes, and knowledge developed in social studies in Grades 1 to 6 and supports the further study of Canadian history in Grade 10.
Our daily lives are interwoven with geography. Each of us lives in a unique place and in constant interaction with our surroundings. Geographic knowledge and skills are essential for us to understand the activities and patterns of our lives and the lives of others.
Gilbert M. Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education, Why Geography Is Important (2007)
In defining geography, Charles Gritzner notes that “All geographic inquiry should begin with the question, ‘Where?’” He argues that, in considering “major Earth-bound events, features, and conditions”, geographers also investigate why they are where they are, or happen where they happen. And, because these events, features, and conditions “can and often do have some impact on our lives”, geographers consider why they are important to us. Gritzner has condensed these ideas into a short but meaningful phrase: “What is where, why there, and why care?” The Grade 7 and 8 geography program provides students with the opportunity to explore these three aspects of geography as they investigate patterns, processes, and interrelationships within and between Earth’s physical environments and human communities.
The Grade 7 and 8 geography program introduces students to the geographic inquiry process and provides students with opportunities to investigate the places that make up the world around them, analyse how people and environments around the globe affect one another, and develop their ability to become environmentally responsible citizens. Students will develop a way of thinking about geography through the application of the concepts of geographic thinking. They will develop their spatial skills as they learn to analyse information and data obtained from diverse sources, including fieldwork, aerial photographs, satellite imaging, various types of maps and graphs, and digital representations. The study of geography in Grades 7 and 8 builds on the skills, attitudes, and knowledge developed in social studies in Grades 1 to 6 and enables students to move on to the further study of geography in Grade 9.