What is Social Studies Education? and Why do we study it?
As stated by the National Council for the Social Studies, social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Social studies provides coordinated, systematic study that draws upon a multitude of disciplines to collectively explore the world around us, foster greater understanding for different experiences and viewpoints, and spark curiosity and creativity in all aspects of life. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world. Through the development of skills, the acquisition of knowledge, and the cultivation of intellectual curiosity, all students may be educated and inspired for lifelong inquiry and informed civic engagement. Students require instruction in all three areas to prepare for life in a complex world. Their ability to solve problems, make thoughtful decisions, and negotiate complicated issues depend on it.
How do we teach Social studies?
Social Studies uses dynamic instructional practices that guides students to form their own conclusions. Dynamic practices are both diverse and student centered, encouraging students to do and teachers to facilitate their doing. As such, social studies uses inquiry-based instruction where the teacher guide students to a deeper understanding of compelling questions posed, methods designed, and data interpreted by the students to meet content standards. Students become active in their learning instead of passive observers. Using the inquiry model, teachers relinquish control over their classrooms, do not dictate perspectives, instead guide students on their quest for evidence. Teachers show students the process of learning, discovery, and research, lifelong skills that will benefit them beyond K-12. Teachers use their experience and professional training to embrace questioning and uncomfortable conversations. At its core social studies seeks to understand human behavior in the past and present, leading to tertiary questions in the various disciplines. The social studies are interdisciplinary because issues are not singularly social, psychological, political, economic, historic, or geographic and require a multi-faceted approach. Therefore, in the social studies, the questions that students and their teachers examine do not lend themselves to simplistic conclusions. Teachers, students, and communities can learn more about the inquiry model and its applications within the social studies at NCSS.org, NHCSS.org, and C3teachers.org.