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Social Studies & History

The social studies and history program at LREI participates fully in the School’s mission by seeking to create active and engaged citizens. The exploration of social studies and history is experienced by students as a progressive widening of inquiry, proceeding from an examination of the classroom, to the school, to the neighborhood, to greater New York City, and finally to the United States and the world. Students learn to understand and analyze multiple cultures and perspectives by exploring various places and time periods. They do research using primary sources, images, music and media, and learn to communicate their discoveries through writing and discussions. Students emerge from LREI as open-minded, curious and intellectually passionate analysts of history.
Nurturing thoughtful students who understand the world around them, as well as those who develop an understanding of their relationship to it, is a process that begins in the earliest classroom experiences. Across all grade levels, LREI emphasizes using New York City as a classroom, and students have the opportunity to understand communities through place-based lessons. They conduct field studies that allow for opportunities to become social justice advocates in the eighth grade. The junior year trip labs introduce students to the complexity of designing their own place-based educational experiences in varied locations around the United States. All of these examples show the commitment of the LREI social studies program to nurturing thoughtful, compassionate, and socially active learners.
Critical thinking and citizenship are essential components of our social studies curriculum. Students learn that history is understood by exploring multiple perspectives through research, comparison and analysis. In third grade, students learn to study history for the first time. They imagine themselves in Manhattan 500 years ago, learning about the Lenape Native Americans and turning their classroom into a life-sized longhouse. They also explore the relationship between the Native Americans, enslaved Africans and the Dutch settlers, analyzing the roles each played. The understanding of the complex relationships between coexisting communities is deepened in seventh grade when students further explore colonial America and take on the perspectives of European settlers, Native Americans and enslaved Africans. Eleventh and twelfth graders choose electives that enable them to delve deeply into historical eras or contemporary issues. For example, students in the “Global War on Terror” class become experts on an aspect of the war on terror and use extensive research to prepare a policy brief designed to convince the “President” of the urgency of the issue and the need to adopt their recommended course of action. Students graduate from LREI’s social studies and history program understanding a variety of perspectives, capable of researching thoroughly, and wanting to take action as citizens in a democratic society.
Little Red School House
and Elisabeth Irwin High School

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  • Since 1921