Social studies is the study of the relationships and interactions between human societies and the earth. The first five books of the Bible focus on relationship – the relationship between God and His creation, the expectations and desires God has for His relationship with us and the desires God has for our relationships with each other, with the earth and within our environments. Through the discipline of social studies, we are able to place many of the Christian life principles into a practical context for students: God created people in His image and created the earth to His perfection. As a consequence of man’s sin, man has fallen from God’s grace and the earth lies in a fallen state. All humans are created equally in value in the sight of God. Time has a definite beginning and end. God is directly involved in human affairs and has been throughout the course of history although His methods, timing and planning may remain a mystery to the finite human mind. Social interaction on the earth has consequences for our world today and in the future. Our world has a future. God’s judgment and governance are just and righteous.
GDQ’s social studies program aims to provide students with
- A comprehensive look at the complexity of people’s lives, the process of change, economic growth, the diversity of societies and relationships between different groups, and the impact of government and power in all levels and styles of social groups.
- A basic understanding of government styles and economic structures, providing students with a framework of reference that can equip them to quickly understand more about these aspects in the places they may live in the future.
- An understanding of their own identity and something of the historical context of at least one of their passport countries.
- The ability to ask perceptive questions, to think critically, to weigh evidence, to sift arguments and to develop perspective and judgment.
- An understanding of social cultural concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence/effect, significance, similarity and difference and to use this understanding to question, analyze and interpret historical events and to form their own structures, accounts and conclusions, giving balanced reasons for their perspective.
- The knowledge and understanding of significant aspects of world physical geography, the natural and human physical process of change upon the Earth and their impact on cultures and societies.
- Knowledge, understanding and use of historical terms such as empire, peasantry, government, slavery, bias andperspective.
- An understanding of the methods of graphical and historical inquiry, including the use of evidence to make claims, to discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the evidence in social issues and historical contexts have been constructed.
- Opportunities to question, research, discuss, evaluate, reason, predict and hypothesis solutions for problems, both physically and socially, facing our world today.
- An understanding that God our Creator has always been and will always be in active relationship with His creation, has always been relevant through history and is still active in the world today.
- An understanding that God has set the standard for human conscience and the guidelines for our actions as custodians of the earth and our behavior and love for all our neighbors.
Lower School Social Studies Program
The lower school social studies program follows a thematic approach with standards aligned with those in the UK. Geographical and historical inquiry unit studies include
- an aspect of Albania, the school’s host country,
- an ancient or past culture / civilization,
- student passport countries,
- a famous person or persons,
- recent and past events,
- physical features relative to the study of geography and
- mapping skills.
Geographical investigations take place inside and outside of the classroom, with learning focused on the environment and the people who live there. In the upper grades students examine how people affect their environment and how an environment affects people. Questioning, the use of geographical skills and resources such as maps, photographs, atlases and ICT allow students to develop knowledge and understanding about “places, patterns and processes” and “environmental change and sustainable development.”
History topics give students opportunities to explore past and present day cultures, learn about the contributions of well-known individuals and examine historical events at age-appropriate inquiry and understanding. Through listening, responding to stories, and asking and answering questions, students gain insight into people’s lives and lifestyles. They examine how the past is different from the present. They learn about change and continuity in the area where they live and in places around the world. They learn that the past can be represented and interpreted in different ways. They look at history from a variety of perspectives – politically, economically, technologically, scientifically, socially, religiously, culturally and aesthetically. They use different sources of information to help them investigate the past in overview and in depth, using dates and historical vocabulary to describe events, people and developments.
Middle School Social Studies Program
The middle school social studies program extends students’ knowledge and understanding of the interconnection of physical and human geographical features and select topics and periods in history. Each discipline is covered over a time frame of one semester.
In geography grade 6-7 students “consolidate and extend their knowledge of the world’s major countries and their physical and human features. They should understand how geographical processes interact to create distinctive human and physical landscapes that change over time.” Students in grade 8 focus on the sustainability and development of a country with specific attention to less economic development countries (LEDC). All students should “become aware of increasingly complex geographical systems in the world around them. They should develop greater competence in using geographical knowledge, approaches and concepts [such as models and theories] and geographical skills in analyzing and interpreting different data sources. In this way pupils will continue to enrich their locational knowledge and spatial and environmental understanding.”
In history students “identify significant events and government structures making connections, drawing contrasts and analyzing trends among them. They “use historical terms and concepts in increasingly sophisticated ways.” They come to “understand how different types of historical sources are used rigorously to make historical claims and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed.” Teachers “combine overview and depth studies to help pupils understand both the long arc of development and the complexity of specific aspects of the content.”
High School Social Studies Program
The high school social studies program includes courses in geography, history, US Economics and US Government. The high school geography program emphasizes human geography, analyzing world issues such as climate change and world poverty. The modern world history program offers an in-depth analysis of international relations between 1914-1990. Students who are US citizens are required to take US History and US Economics and Government. Depending on teacher availability and student interest, GDQ offers AP European History. Students are required to successfully complete three credits in social studies toward graduation. Overall, the high school social studies program is developing. The desire is to solidify the current curriculum and expand course offerings to include additional AP courses.