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Understanding Oneself and Others through Visits to Sacred Spaces

The Third Grade social studies curriculum brings students into sacred spaces as a way of helping them engage with and understand religious and spiritual traditions and practices of their classmates, friends and neighbors. Through the framework of experience, observation and reflection, students explore their own identities and cultures as a step toward understanding others. This curriculum fits into the broader social studies themes for the year—culture and identity and the School’s commitment to Social and Emotional Learning.

Students start with the Meetinghouse, a place they know well. They sketch elements of the space, look for evidence of simplicity and community and think about the practice of silence. They also make real world connections to the Quaker S.P.I.C.E.S. or fundamental values. This provides an important framework for their visits to the Brotherhood Synagogue, Islamic Cultural Center of New York, Ganesh Temple (Hindu), Hope East Village Church and Kadampa Meditation Center (Buddhist).

This curriculum, first developed in 2016-17, has evolved over the years. Third Grade teacher Courtney Retzler explains, “Over the years we have called on the talents and resources within our community. This year it was especially exciting to have the help and support of parents Drew Jackson, the Pastor at Hope East Village Church and Nadia Sandozi and Nazar Khan who helped guide teacher and student learning about Islam.”


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