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With the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools as a guide to the eras and civilizations to study, these standards require students not only to acquire core knowledge in history and social science, but also to develop the critical thinking skills that historians and social scientists employ to study the past and its relationship to the present. It is possible to spend a lifetime studying history and not learn about every significant historical event; no one can know everything. However, the State Board hopes that during their years of formal schooling, students will learn to distinguish the important from the unimportant, to recognize vital connections between the present and the past, and to appreciate universal historical themes and dilemmas.

Throughout this document, the use of biographies, original documents, diaries, letters, legends, speeches, and other narrative artifacts from our past is encouraged to foster students’ understanding of historical events by revealing the ideas, values, fears, and dreams of the people associated with them. Found in archives, museums, historical sites, and libraries across California, these original materials are indispensable resources. The State Board hopes schools will take advantage of these repositories and encourage students’ direct contact with history. The standards also emphasize the importance of enriching the study of history through the use of literature, both from and about the period being studied.

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