The purpose of social studies, based on the US National Council for the Social Studies, is to promote “civic competence” among students. In other words, the subject equips students to become better citizens of a country. This is done by exploring the history, geography, current events, and governments, among others. Middle school social studies usually deal with one of each of these fields per grade level.
History in middle school (at least in the US) is divided into two main topics: US history and world history. For US history, teachers discuss the different events that shaped the United States into what it is now. These would include the Declaration of Independence, the Civil War, Emancipation, World Wars I and II, and many others.
World history, on the other hand, is a broader topic. It covers many regions including Europe, Asia, and Africa. Asian history, for one, is a big chunk of what students take up in world history. There is also the history of colonization by European empires and how they influenced the world around them. The causes of international conflicts, including the two world wars, are also discussed in world history.
Aside from the past, social studies also deal with the present. Current events are an important part of this subject as well. In middle school, students are trained to be watchful of the things going on around them through the news. Also, they are taught how to interpret these events and to see how it will impact them and the wider society.
With this knowledge, students gain the ability to become more socially aware and to be actively involved citizens of their country. Through analyzing current events, students will also learn how to predict the consequences of the things happening around them. With that, they can be good influences on their communities.