Teaching social studies is, for the most part, known for supplying students with a lot of facts (this can be subjective...) that they learn about human history. But in the midst of learning and teaching all these facts we lose sight of the "why". Why are we learning history? How does what happened in the past effect me today? What can be learned from this past event? ...and the questions can go on and on. The questions, however, are at the heart of the learning. Certainly, there are reasons why we teach what we teach. This can be clearly seen in what a small Cleveland suburb is doing within their school district's social studies department. Their main goal is to take the state standards (what they are teaching-the facts) and infuse it into a curriculum that "develop(s) intellectual entrepreneurs with a social conscience". They have a mission statement reads as follows:
Draw from a body of knowledge
Respectfully participate in communities
Evaluate issues from multiple perspectives
Define and articulate a coherent argument
Make connections between past and present
Practice making socially appropriate choices
Regularly reflect on personal efforts
Demonstrate empathy for others
As a wet-behind-the-ears educator, I am simply impressed with this statement and look to include it into my teaching in the future. I know that the state standards do not ask us to teach any of this, but I believe we will do a great disservice to our students and our communities if we don't teach them the human element of Humanities.
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