The Place of Canadian and World Studies in the Curriculum
The Canadian and World Studies program encompasses five subjects: economics, geography, history, law, and politics. In studying these subjects, students learn how people interact with and within their social and physical environments today, and how they did so in the past.
The main goals of the Canadian and World Studies program in Grades 9 and 10 are to help students to:
• gain an understanding of the basic concepts of the subjects taught at this level, as a foundation for further studies in the discipline;
• develop the knowledge and values they need to become responsible, active, and informed Canadian citizens in the twenty-first century;
• develop practical skills (such as critical-thinking, research, and communication skills), some of which are particular to a given subject in Canadian and World Studies and some of which are common to all the subjects in the discipline;
• apply the knowledge and skills they acquire in Canadian and World Studies courses to better understand their interactions with the natural environment; the political, economic, and cultural interactions among groups of people; the relationship between technology.
Geography is an integrative subject that brings a variety of perspectives, both social and physical, to the study of people, places, and environments around the world. Knowing where physical, social or political events or processes occur helps students gain a spatial perspective on them.
Understanding the processes that shape the earth and knowing how life forms interact with the environment allow them to view events from an ecological perspective. Historical and economic perspectives help students understand the relationship between people and their environments, as well as interactions that occur among groups of people. Studying geography, students receive practical guidance for decision making and problem solving in geographic planning, economic development, and environmental and resource management.
As the world’s economies become increasingly interdependent, as pressures on the world’s resources mount, and as concerns about issues such as global warming, urbanization, and population growth escalate, people need to become geographically literate and able to make informed judgements about environmental and social issues. The Grade 9 Geography of Canada course provides students with a foundation in this essential area of learning.
The study of history fulfils a fundamental human desire to know about our past. It also appeals to us because of our love of stories – and history consists of stories. Through the narrative of history we hear and see the people, events, emotions, struggles, and challenges that produced the present and that will shape the future. The better we understand history, the easier it becomes to understand other times and places. Such knowledge teaches us that our particular accomplishments and problems are not unique – an important lesson in a world in which the forces of globalization are drawing people of different cultures closer together. Canadian and World Studies offers students a variety of history courses that will enhance their knowledge of and appreciation for the story of Canada. The compulsory Grade 10 course, Canadian History Since World War I, focuses on the events and personalities that have shaped our nation since 1914. Optional Canadian history courses in Grades 11 and 12 provide further opportunities.
As the twenty-first century unfolds, Canada is undergoing significant change. Canadians are struggling with a range of challenging questions, such as the following: As our population becomes more diverse, how do we ensure that all voices are heard? How do we resolve important societal and community issues in the face of so many diverse and divergent views influenced by differing values? What role will Canada play within an increasingly interconnected global community? Our responses to these questions will affect not only our personal lives but the future of our communities, our provinces and territories, and our country. In civics, students explore what it means to be a “responsible citizen” in the local, national, and global arenas. They examine the structures and functions of the three levels of government, as well as the dimensions of democracy, notions of democratic citizenship, and political decision-making processes. They are encouraged to identify and clarify their own beliefs and values, and to develop an appreciation of others’ beliefs and values about questions of civic importance.
The Place of Social Sciences and Humanities in the Curriculum
The discipline of social sciences and humanities in the Ontario secondary school curriculum encompasses four subject areas: family studies, general social science, philosophy, and world religions. Although these subjects differ widely in topic and approach, they all explore some aspect of human society, thought, and culture.
The social sciences, represented in this curriculum by courses in family studies as well as general social science, explore individual and collective human behaviour and needs, and patterns and trends in society. Studies in these subjects shed light on a variety of social structures, institutions, and relationships. The humanities, represented in this curriculum by courses in philosophy and religion, explore fundamental questions about human nature and the human condition. The program in social sciences and humanities thus offers a range of perspectives and approaches, with an emphasis on the practical and applied in the family studies courses and on the theoretical in the general social science, philosophy, and religion courses.
Both social science and humanities courses teach students a variety of fundamental skills, such as formulating appropriate questions, collecting and analysing data, differentiating between evidence and opinion, recognizing bias, and organizing and communicating results effectively. Students gain experience in researching information from a variety of sources, thinking critically about the ideas and facts they gather, and using that information to solve problems through both independent effort and collaborative work.