Searching for Tomorrow’s Answers by Understanding the Past
Sixth graders are moving into a social studies project in which they will analyze the ways that various elements of civilization—such as literacy, religion, government, agriculture, and art—shape human activity, value systems, and social structures. Students will compare and contrast early civilizations and also investigate the reciprocal effects of human activity on the surrounding environment.
“Today cities are engines of climate alteration,” says 6th Grade Social Studies Teacher Josh Silver. It is important to study early civilizations to understand how we got to where we are today. By the end of this first trimester 6th graders will know why it is important to study how people became organized and lived together in densely packed areas and will gain deeper insights into the impact of today’s growing population.
The underlying theme of the relationship between humans and their environment was mapped out in the beginning of the year when students created a timeline of environmental changes since the formation of the earth 4.6 billion years ago. The timeline tracks human evolution and activity, and it also tracks patterns of change in nature such as rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. This timeline illustrates that we live in an unprecedented time—a time in which human activity has significantly altered the patterns of nature, and thus climate.
This historical framework will ground students as they dive deeper into the social structures that can help address climate change today, as well as the challenges of tomorrow.