Teaching Social Science in Schools

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Some features of this site may not work without it. Date: Abstract: South Africa has gone through many recent changes and the impact of these changes was, especially, experienced in the development of the South African Education system. Before the National Curriculum Statement, History and Geography were taught as separate subjects under Social Studies but later combined into one subject, Social Sciences. Teachers in some South African schools are specialist in one of the two disciplines, either History or Geography. The intention of this study was derived from many of the researcher?

This study identified the challenges experienced by heads of department HoDs of Social Sciences and the strategies they use to address the identified challenges.

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The research approach was qualitative and a case study research design was used. That finding seems to relate directly to important issues in multicultural education; one of which is the difference that is likely to exist between the life experiences and sociological perspectives of teachers and their students who are members of diverse cultural groups Banks ; Garcia ; Grossman Because most teachers come, and will continue to come, from a middle-class background, the sociological perspective they bring to the classroom may be far more conservative and benign than that of minority parents and children.

That difference in perspective is inherent in both items that were specific in nature. For the first item, the difference is found in how one explains the realities of poverty and unemployment in the United States.

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A belief that everyone can attain the American Dream simply by hard work is what Bennett and LeCompte refer to as "a middle-class ideology which states that status and mobility in American society are based upon merit, earned competitively, and facilitated by schooling" To those who accept that ideology, individuals who experience poverty and unemployment have only themselves to blame; they just have not tried hard enough to succeed Lewis , Sleeter and Grant Comments made by preservice elementary teachers subsequent to the initial study provide further evidence of such a belief.

Five selections from their statements that support the conservative ideology follow:. Bennett and LeCompte note that those who accept such explanations somehow overlook the fact that that ideology most often applies in principle to those who are already the most advantaged white middle-and upper-class men.

The contrast is rather apparent between the conservative, "middle class" ideology and one that includes such concepts as "reproduction," "hegemony," "oppression," "resistance," and empowerment" Apple , , ; Giroux a, b, ; Freire --concepts that persons with minority status in a society may find particularly relevant and meaningful. The difference also concerns how one perceives the nature of society.

Sleeter and Grant believe that members of dominant groups are likely to perceive the nature of society as fair and open, whereas members of oppressed groups are likely to view it as unfair or rigged. An uncritical view of societal institutions is a characteristic of structural functionalism Bennett and LeCompte , which, once again, reflects a conservative position, that is, "a benign, unquestioning view of the social system" and one that "accepts existing class structures as appropriate" Bennett and LeCompte , 6.

Such a view has little in common with "critical citizenship" Engle and Ochoa that encourages questioning and leaves room for doubt. The fourth challenge is to encourage preservice elementary teachers to adopt and teach the all-important social studies goal of working to improve society.

A conflict may exist between their general agreement with the ideals of that broad goal and their conservative sociological beliefs on specific issues. Additional research is needed in this area. What becomes clear is the need for professors to engage preservice elementary teachers in meaningful and substantive discussions about sociological issues, especially because elementary classrooms will include increasing numbers of students from diverse cultural groups Garcia The number of topics deemed pertinent to social studies education at the preservice level continues to expand.

As the content demands increase, so does the pressure on professors to prepare preservice elementary teachers adequately for an increasing number of responsibilities. The sheer number of topics can leave professors perplexed about finding enough time to cover some, much less all, of them. Massialas and Allen label some of these topics "crucial issues" and include the following under the description of what to teach in social studies : creating a civic culture, the hidden curriculum, student motivation, thinking skills, values education, global education, multicultural studies , gender studies , educational technology, alternative assessment, meeting the needs of students with disabilities, and academic freedom.

One of the greatest challenges facing professors is how to use the limited amount of time available to them in a prudent manner. Elementary social studies methods textbooks typically present what Leming , refers to as the social studies theorists' culture of social studies. Within this perspective, the following positions are usually espoused: Society needs to be improved Banks ; controversial studies or problem-centered units should be included in the curriculum Jarolimek and Parker ; citizenship education is highly related to social studies Maxim ; units of study are highly desirable Chapin and Messick ; social interaction among students is encouraged Ellis ; student engagement in social issues is a worthy and realistic goal Martorella ; and multiple perspectives should be used for investigating historical events Brophy and Alleman I designed the Elementary Social Studies Perspective Questionnaire to measure a university perspective of elementary social studies.

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The items were derived from a literature review of the professional writings in the field and from elementary social studies methods textbooks. Both groups had a moderately positive university perspective of elementary social studies. Among the possible explanations for the lack of practical significance, one that deserves careful consideration suggests that the ideals of social studies education i. According to that hypothesis, preservice elementary teachers who enroll in a course that addresses social studies methods , after having been exposed to the ideals of education in introductory education courses, are predisposed to accept a university perspective and readily agree with most of the general elements of this perspective.

  • Educating the whole child for the whole world: the Ross School Model and education for the Global Era.
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  • On a practical level, the issue is whether or not professors should spend as much time let alone an entire semester attempting to persuade preservice elementary teachers of the merits of the general elements of a university perspective. To use the limited amount of time efficiently, professors need to engage preservice elementary teachers in new, challenging, and unresolved issues rather than in those on which, for the most part, they are already in agreement.

    The findings should encourage professors to spend more time discussing critical and complex topics and less time covering generalities that relate to a university perspective.

    B. Certification of Teachers

    The fifth challenge is selecting and teaching content that is new, challenging, complex, and specific, rather than that which is redundant, simple, and general. By going beyond the general, valuable and enriching discussions can occur between professors and preservice elementary teachers. Two universities in South Florida required an intensive and interactive field experience during a preservice elementary teacher's enrollment in a social studies methods course.

    4th Grade Social Studies

    Other universities in the area used different models for providing field experience in social studies prior to student teaching. For the two universities that offered a concurrent field experience, using it to its full advantage proved problematic. For instance, when considering the field experience in relation to what the students had learned in their social studies methods course, 80 percent of the participants found it a positive experience "excellent" or "good".

    Of those participants, the finding that just over a third The other 20 percent of the participants evaluated the field experience as being either "fair" Because nearly all the instructional strategies that are recommended in elementary social studies methods e. The data revealed that over 30 percent of the participants were placed with directing teachers whom they described as having a "traditional" teaching style.

    Although the term "traditional" is subject to interpretation, it is commonly used to denote a style that favors passive rather than active learning experiences Dewey and one that is highly teacher-directed Hollins The most revealing finding to support the contention that the field experience was not used optimally pertained to the participants' evaluation of the interest level their directing teachers had for teaching social studies. A third of the participants It is counterproductive, to say the least, to place a preservice teacher with a directing teacher who is not interested in teaching social studies.

    To meet the sixth challenge, instructors must place each preservice elementary teacher with a directing teacher who can provide encouragement, positive modeling, and support for teaching social studies. Simply finding directing teachers who are willing to have preservice elementary teachers in their classrooms is not an acceptable nor a successful strategy for making field experience placements.

    Top 10 Concerns of Social Studies Teachers

    These formidable challenges are obstacles that professors of social studies methods will confront. Social studies educators on all levels have a vital interest in discussing the challenges and developing effective strategies to meet them. To enhance their dialogue, I offer the general observations that follow:. Although discussions are constantly occurring over what content should be taught to elementary children, the real issue is whether teachers preservice and inservice , who have a low regard for social studies , will make the necessary effort to find the time to teach the subject at all, regardless of what the content is.

    Presently, that issue appears to be the more important of the two. Also, the way geography content is presented pline as an approach to organise social science content hinders in Indian social science textbooks suggests the dominance of reforms in the social science curriculum. Maps and photographs of some important leaders were Economists have introduced their discipline very recently, the only visual material available for learners. In contrast to yet young learners are introduced to concepts—gross dome- this, the new social science textbooks contain a variety of stic product GDP , national income, structural aspects of the narratives: original case studies, passages from fiction and Indian economy—which are abstract in nature.

    Political scien- non-fiction materials, diagrams, tables, portraits, paintings, tists have learners know and memorise laws, rules, duties, cartoons, photographs, primary sources, original letters, etc. The organisation of social science textbooks. Teaching of this new content requires more time, syllabi also shows that there is no uniformity in presenting teaching aids, and resource materials.

    This could be one rea- social science knowledge in consonance with the cognitive son why learners and teachers consider social science curricu- level of learners. Also, both learners and teachers find it diffi- lum as overburdening.

    The new social science textbooks cult to see the linkages between topics from different subjects, expect that learners be facilitated by the teacher to construct all learnt under the rubric of social science. Teach- Decisions on using a specific approach to select, organise ers could not cope with this change when the school system as and present social science knowledge in schools are not based a whole is interested in examination-centric curricular prac- on empirical research. Such evidence is also hard to find tices.

    Also, social science teachers are yet to understand why in India. This may be of two kinds: i syllabus contains many members of review committees Srinivasan On the one topics, whereas the time available to study these topics is hand, a wide gap in the quality of textbooks brought out by the limited; and ii content material textbooks is written in a NCERT and SCERTs reflects the intellectual capacity of the manner non-comprehensible to both learners and teachers.

    On the other hand, this could also be one of the been reported frequently by teachers rather than by learners. Preparing Social Science Teachers: Who is a social science Social science teachers and learners using curricular mate- teacher? This has been a perennial problem since the s. Suppose that a teacher studied history during her gradu- Economics was not considered as part of the national-level ation, she finds herself comfortable teaching history, while it is social science syllabi until the early s owing to easing of natural for her to find it difficult to teach the other three sub- the curricular load.

    This also shows the expanding nature of jects. For a prospective history teacher, neither the present the social sciences. Curricular load in social science is seen in a one-year pre-service teacher education course, such as the narrow manner, in terms of the number of books and pages BEd, nor the variety of in-service education programmes GOI Social science teachers to a variety of issues, particularly in social science curriculum.

    A few states do not even allow economics and larly when they are in power. This means that all social sci- ics do not gel with other social science contents Bhattacharya ence teachers of those states might find it difficult to teach This also has implications on the quality of teaching— these subjects effectively. For example, since studies teachers to teach all four subjects effectively.

    We are well aware that this is a topic that One major victim of social science education in schools is can be understood better as part of both geography and geography.

    Teaching Social Science in Schools | SAGE Publications Inc

    Geography has a considerable space in the upper science courses. Many state examination boards have also primary and secondary school curriculum. Very few colleges followed the CBSE practice. This means Learners are required to learn to deal with contemporary that most social science teachers in India teach geography challenges they face in their daily lives. If learners are able to without having basic understanding of the subject.

    In recent understand social science concepts and tools better, are they times, many political science and economics topics are found not able to deal with any social issue better? Why is it neces- in social science curricula, but social science teachers teach sary to include discussion on acts passed in Parliament or state these topics without sufficient knowledge and understanding assemblies in social science curricula?

    If all steps taken by gov- of these subjects. Social science textbooks brought sciences. In recent times, many applied and interdisciplinary out by some states already contain such materials. Is it not nec- social science subjects, such as human rights, financial acco- essary to differentiate social issues which i require advocacy unting, media, gender studies, etc, are being offered at the among young learners and are not necessarily taught in the higher secondary stage.

    Powerful, Purposeful Pedagogy in Elementary School Social Studies

    The crucial questions here are: who is classroom as curricular content, and ii are to be included as teaching these subjects? What are their qualifications? Are a topic in the social science course?

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