ERIC Number: ED315327
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989
Reference Count: N/A
History or Social Studies? Frying Pan or Fire.
Social studies as taught in many schools is anti-intellectual, formless, and ineffective. History, if properly taught, is at the opposite extreme: challenging to the point of being beyond the comprehension of young students. Social studies at its worst is experimental psychological manipulation. At its best it can be a useful synthesis of concepts and insights from various social sciences. Sociology and anthropology offer intellectual tools for understanding social groups and relations, along with perspectives on cultural and physical factors that condition our lives. Economics provides basic insights into matters that every free, intelligent citizen should appreciate: scarcity, supply and demand, and division of labor. Political science and law also provide necessary analytic tools: sovereignty, human rights, balance of power, and democracy. Not to be ignored are the contributions that philosophy, psychology, and theology can give: obligation, duty, freedom, and materialism. Once the essential ideas from the social sciences are identified, they can be applied, in ways that students can understand and use, to the facts of history, geography, and contemporary societies. The challenge for educators is to put together an acceptable syllabus, based on a comprehensive vision of the knowledge and skills that students should be able to command at the end of their school careers. Once that is done, the syllabus must be broken into steps of cumulative learning, each step appropriate to the maturity level of the students at each grade level. (JB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Social Science Education Consortium (Denver, CO, June 1989).