New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards
May 1996

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New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards
for Social Studies

Introduction

Citizen participation in government is essential in forming this nation's democracy, and is vital in sustaining it. Social studies education promotes loyalty and love of country and it prepares students to participate intelligently in public affairs. Its component disciplines foster in students the knowledge and skills needed to make sense of current political and social issues. By studying history, geography, American government and politics and other nations, students can learn to contribute to national, state and local decision-making. They will also develop an understanding of the American constitutional system, an active awareness and commitment to the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, a tolerance for those with whom they disagree, and an understanding of the world beyond the borders of the United States.

The Supreme Court of New Jersey underscored the role of the social studies in fulfilling the state's obligation to offer all children a "thorough and efficient education" with these words:

Thorough and efficient (education) means being able to fulfill one's role as a citizen, a role that encompasses far more than merely registering to vote. It means the ability to participate fully in society, in the life of one's community, the ability to appreciate music, art, and literature, and the ability to share all that with friends.

--Abbott v. Burke 119 NJ 287, pp. 363-364 (1990)

The court's thinking reinforces the definition of the National Council for the Social Studies: "Social studies are the integrated study of social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence." (NCSS Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, 1994). The New Jersey core curriculum content standards for Social Studies focus on defining the knowledge and skills students need to "make informed and reasoned choices for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world." (NCSS, 1994) The social studies curriculum must work to reinforce our nation's most important ideals, including the dignity and equality of all individuals and the notion of the common good. "Some values are so central to our way of life and our view of the common good that we need to develop students' commitment to them through systematic social studies experiences....These include rights, freedoms and responsibilities of the individual, and beliefs concerning social conditions and government responsibilities." (NCSS, 1994) And, at a fundamental level, the Social Studies curriculum fosters the bedrock value of patriotism and the overarching quest to nurture a good person.

The New Jersey core curriculum content standards for Social Studies are designed to prepare students for their future role as intelligent and active citizens in our democratic society. Three areas of humanities study - history, citizenship and geography - are emphasized to provide students with understanding of human interaction through time. Embedded in these content areas are economic, cultural, anthropological, sociological and global perspectives. By studying the human condition in these contexts, students will gain an understanding of their own country's history, institutions and environment, and also of the forces that have shaped world cultures. Moreover, students will learn to view contemporary problems facing the nation and the world as products of complex historical, institutional, and environmental processes, rather than as isolated events which lack deep meaning. These standards offer students a set of shared understandings about our nation and the world which are the basis for intelligent discussion about how to achieve democratic goals of justice, equality, and social progress.

In order to ensure that students share a common core of knowledge, by the end of their school experience students of United States history should have studied all five of the following major periods in history:

  • The Colonial Period (to 1763)
  • The Revolution and Early National Period (to 1820)
  • The Age of Civil War and Reconstruction (to 1870)
  • Industrial America and the Era of World Wars (to 1945)
  • The Modern Age

In addition, students of World History should have studied all seven of the following World History periods:

  • Prehistory (to 2000 BC)
  • The Ancient World (to 500 BC)
  • The World of Hemispheric Interactions and the "Middle Ages" (to 1400)
  • The Age of Global Encounters (to 1700)
  • The Age of Revolutions (to 1850)
  • The Age of Imperialism and World War (to 1950)
  • The Modern World

School districts are encouraged to define the balance among materials from Western, Asian, African, and other world cultures in each of these periods. Furthermore, several suggested themes are included among the history standards (6.3 through 6.6) to enhance and enrich the study of history.

The social studies standards are grouped for study and inquiry in the following manner:

  • Standards 6.1 and 6.2: educating students for democratic citizenship.
  • Standards 6.3 through 6.6: educating students for historical understanding.
  • Standards 6.7 through 6.9: educating students for geographical understanding.

In developing these standards, the Social Studies Standards Committee reflected the obligation of New Jersey's schools to the State and its Constitution, to the State's citizenry, to the children whose habits of thought and problem-solving skills are in the school's trust, and to the institutions of higher education which receive New Jersey's high school graduates. These content standards for Social Studies outline the academic paths through which students can explore the diversity and commonalities of human experience.

Social Studies List Of Standards

6.1

All students will learn democratic citizenship and how to participate in the constitutional system of government of the United States.

6.2

All students will learn democratic citizenship through the humanities, by studying literature, art, history and philosophy, and related fields.

6.3

All students will acquire historical understanding of political and diplomatic ideas, forces, and institutions throughout the history of New Jersey, the United States, and the world.

6.4

All students will acquire historical understanding of societal ideas and forces throughout the history of New Jersey, the United States, and the world.

6.5

All students will acquire historical understanding of varying cultures throughout the history of New Jersey, the United States, and the world.

6.6

All students will acquire historical understanding of economic forces, ideas, and institutions throughout the history of New Jersey, the United States, and the world.

6.7

All students will acquire geographical understanding by studying the world in spatial terms.

6.8

All students will acquire geographical understanding by studying human systems in geography.

6.9

All students will acquire geographical understanding by studying the environment and society.

 

 

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