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Social Studies


Social studies comprises the study of relationships among people and between people and the environment. It recognizes the challenges and benefits of living in a diverse cultural and ideological society. Based on appropriate investigations and reflections within social studies, students develop distinctive skills and a critical awareness of the human condition and emerging spatial patterns and the processes and events that shape them. Social studies education builds our common understandings of responsible citizenship.

A responsible citizen:

  • Uses knowledge of the past to construct meaningful understanding of our history in order to enrich and enlighten our lives. (Historical Perspective)
  • Uses knowledge of geographical concepts, such as spatial patterns and both human and natural systems, to understand processes that impact our world. (Geographic Perspective)
  • Uses knowledge of government, law, and politics to make decisions about and take action on local, national, and international issues to further the public good. (Civic Perspective)
  • Uses knowledge of production, distribution, and consumption within modern economics to make decisions. (Economic Perspective)
  • Uses a wide range of social studies skills, including critical thinking, to investigate and analyze a variety of resources and issues and seek answers. (Critical Thinking Skills)
  • Uses effectively both group process and communication skills to participate in democratic decision-making. (Interpersonal and Group Skills)

Principles and Goals

The social studies curriculum builds the following capacities in young people: disciplinary knowledge; inquiry, interpersonal, and critical thinking skills; respect for the underlying values of a diverse democratic society; interest in public affairs and competencies of self-government. Each capacity contributes uniquely to responsible citizenship.

The social studies curriculum:

  • Builds disciplinary knowledge. Disciplinary knowledge is fundamental for students to construct meaning through understanding powerful ideas drawn primarily from the disciplines of history, geography, civics, and economics.
  • Cultivates inquiry, interpersonal, and critical thinking skills. These skills are infused throughout the four social studies disciplines so that students apply the methods of social science to effectively participate in public life. Aided by appropriate technologies, students gather, interpret, and analyze information to be informed citizens. Their ability to engage in civic discourse improves through practice of discussion and interpersonal skills. Critical thinking skills encourage reasoned decisions as well as alternative viewpoints regarding matters of public concern.
  • Promotes respect for the underlying values of a diverse democratic society. As a result, students comprehend the ideals of democracy and strive to live their lives in accordance with them. A reasoned commitment to democratic values motivates citizens to safeguard their rights, to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens, and to honor the dignity of all people.
  • Stimulates interest in public affairs and strengthens competencies of self-government though citizen participation experiences. Students are encouraged to inform themselves about public affairs and to become active participants in civic life rather than passive bystanders. They are urged to uphold the rule of law in their personal and social lives and to challenge wrongdoing. Efforts to understand multiple perspectives about local, national, and international issues are supported by the curriculum. Through activities such as service learning and political action, the social studies curriculum equips students to improve their communities and to realize the civic virtue of serving.

Ultimately, responsible citizenship rests on these capacities. Social studies education for responsible citizenship must be a compelling priority if we expect to sustain our constitutional democracy. The health of our democracy depends on whether young people understand the complexities of human society and can govern themselves competently.


For grades K-5, contact your student's classroom teacher or Curriculum Specialist Dawn Harper at 425-837-7147.

For secondary students, grades 6-12, contact your student's teacher or Language Arts/Social Studies Curriculum Specialist Tricia Cecil at 425-837-7006.