Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pondering the Practicality of Social Studies ...

        In my classroom, it is my desire to make history truly become something that does not simply come alive (which I do wish!) but become something practical in my students lives. How can social studies and history be practical?? First, history is not the only component in Social Studies ... just like fractions aren't synonymous with Mathematics. Geography, social interactions, stories of heroes, mistakes made in the past, economics, and more are all encompassed in this subject. Good teachers, take all of this into account when they are tackling the teaching of this despised subject. No ... I don't mean they make you memorize all the rivers and landmasses in the United States on top of every general in the Civil War! I mean that they take the economic outcomes, the geographical advantages, the social/cultural/ethnic issues, and help you find out WHY?
Why was it that the Europeans began the "Scientific Revolution" when the Aztecs of Mexico and the Chinese were far more advanced in the areas of navigation and medicine? How do our early, national values help determine what we choose to do currently and in the future? Why do we do many of the things we do? Why do other countries do things that they do? Why are we currently having issues with another nation? How can be we better avoid certain economic, social, and universal downfalls ... look to history.  
People are a product of their culture. Social Studies explains this. Many people today are frustrated with our current government for a myriad of reasons ... check it out - find out why ... then complain, better yet, help change it! Find out why certain people are doing what they are doing or why others have their hands tied. Learn about our economic history,  maybe the headlines in the newspaper will make a bit more sense to you.
Teachers, remember this as you teach our children. It can be one of the most practically applied subjects in our world ... it is the story (past, present, and future) of OURSELVES - we just have to apply it.

  • For ideas on how to apply divergent thinking and practical application for social studies assessment see my post "Higher Order Authentic Assessment"
  • For ideas on incorporating social studies into reading and writing centers see my post "Center Organization" - toward the bottom of the post
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