Here is a lot to be said for perspective. Although I am officially retired from teaching education courses at a fairly large public university, I have some ideas that might have resonance with people studying to be teachers. In my career, I taught many graduate curriculum courses in regular college classroom settings and on the Internet. The other semesters, including summer terms. I taught an undergraduate course entitled Methods and Principles: Social Studies for Elementary and Middle Grades. I also taught the high school version of the same course. As part of these courses, I discussed with my mainly young students why social studies is important, and what it is for. To be quite frank, most of my students had no idea how to even begin to discuss this topic except to rely on old tried and true rhetoric such as, "it helps us be better citizens" or "by understanding the past, we can avoid making the same mistakes." By no stretch of the imagination does such rhetoric hold water, good intentions notwithstanding.
Believe me when I say that I have read many, many of the statements by such organizations as the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) that describe why social studies is important. If those statements meant anything at all in the REAL world, our students, after more than four decades of NCSS guidance in social studies curriculum, would surely have a better grasp of the content and would also engage in concomitant civic behavior such as voting. But they don't. Go to the NCSS web site and see what you think. There is a vast gulf between professed goals and actual results.
I have come to some conclusions about this. As I have expressed elsewhere on the ADPRIMA site, social studies is about understanding things, and not very much about learning skills. I have come to believe that any idea or concept that takes more than three pages or so of explanation should be broken down into two or more concepts or smaller ideas... [continues]
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