The program in the Middle School encourages active investigation and discussion of ideas, of similarities and differences, of connections between the past and the present.
Students follow a common course of study integrating the five strands of world history, geography, social sciences, host country and United Nations. They travel to all regions and from the earliest civilizations towards the emergence of the modern world.
Class work emphasizes active inquiry; by the end of eighth grade students have been introduced to primary sources, done their own research and learned to present their own ideas and understanding in terms of clear argument and selected evidence in essays and debates. In Middle School Humanities we have a strong commitment to learning beyond the classroom, drawing on the diversity and resources of New York City and our parent body.
Students in Middle One study the emergence of complex societies in the ancient world between 3500-500 BCE. They examine the relationship between geography and economic, social, political and cultural systems, and begin to learn about world religions, focusing on the origins and teachings of Judaism. They study rivers as physical systems and examine the role of river valleys in the development of the first urban societies in Mesopotamia and Egypt. An understanding of the interaction between humans and their natural environment is further developed in the historical context of westward expansion (host country) and in the contemporary world concerns of the United Nations (environment and water Security).
Students in Middle Two expand their understanding of world history and chronology by studying the ideas and legacies—political, social and cultural—of classical societies in India, China, Greece and Rome, between 500 BCE and 500 CE. They explore the enduring importance of the ideas of democracy, citizenship and law that emerged in this period, and their continued relevance today, as seen through a study of the political system of the host country and in the work of the United Nations. They continue to learn about world religions—Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism—as they emerged in the regions studied. This is linked to exploration of the geographical concept of region, as defined by human as well as physical characteristics. (This course is offered in French for Francophone students.)
Students in Middle Three study the processes of expansion, interaction and change within and between societies in the Middle East, Central and East Asia, West Africa and Europe between 500 and 1500 CE. They examine the role of religion and ideas in society, as a source of political power, of social cohesion as well as conflict and as a force of expansion and conquest. Students assess the influence of geographical factors on local and regional patterns of production and exchange and examine the growth of urbanization and commerce. They explore how the increasing movement of people, goods and ideas between regions contributed to new patterns of cultural exchange, economic activity and trade. This is linked to an investigation of the patterns and experiences of migration to the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The UN component examines inequalities between children in different societies and regions and the role of the UN in addressing these conditions. (This course is offered in French for Francophone students.)
Students in Middle Four study the historical processes of change, transformation and continuity in Europe, the Americas and Asia between 1450 and 1750 CE. They examine the changes that contributed to regional expansion, oceanic exploration and colonial settlement, and economic and political transformations in both Europe and the Americas. This is contrasted with the stability and continuity of Mughal India. The study of geography includes the physical and political features of the regions studied, then and now, as well as ecological changes that resulted from the Columbian Exchange. In the context of host country history, students study the colonial experience in North America, as the emergence of a new society. Students study the indigenous peoples today and the role of the UN and other agencies as advocates for their rights. (This course is offered in French for Francophone students.)