It’s 2013, and many arguments have been made pertaining to eliminating various classes as the Great Recession continues. I have heard over and over the push to eliminate history and social studies classes. Whether it be due to finances in a district, social studies “not being tested” in state assessments, or the extreme notion that today’s technology can replace social studies in the classroom, social studies lessons are more important now than ever. Listed below are five reasons that I believe make social studies one of the most important, if not the most important focus in education.
Current Events. I’m not talking about who is going to the Superbowl or who Taylor Swift is currently dating. Today’s world is faster, brighter, and more informed than ever. Technologies we don’t even know about are being produced and utilized at a rapid pace. What does this have to do with current events? As all of you are reading this know (I hope) it’s not just who you know, it’s all about what you know. Being informed on everything from new sore opening up in town to what North Korea is manufacturing plays a role in your life. Students need to see the value in news; yes, you can just google it or look it up on our phone, but there needs to be a reason or inspiration to know – almost like building educational capital in your classroom. Teachers need to keep that educational capital present in all subjects, but it’s a no-brainer for current events.
Globalization. I remember joining my middle school German in 8th grade, and paying $2.00 so I can get a German pen-pal. We exchanged letters every other month. Today? I can tweet my German pen-pal, and he’ll get it in seconds. Students need to see and understand the importance of how globalization plays a role in our world today. From Skype to Facebook, technology has changed how globalization is perceived and how our daily lives run. The ramifications are endless; students need to comprehend that countries may be thousands of mile away from each other, but we are now just a click away.
The Economy. I’m guessing Economics in high school and college weren’t everybody’s favorite subject, but the world still rates around an economy. In my opinion, understanding how an economy works is just as important as eating nutritious food & exercising each day. In some way, money still plays a role in each of our lives; having the knowledge of how it all works is paramount for students to be taking on an active role as 21st century members o
Geography. I’m still horrified by the 60 Minutes interview with David McCullough when he stated that a college student told him she had no idea the 13 colonies were on the east coast. Despite phones, GPS, Navigation systems, and every other bell-n-whistle, students still need to read a map and know how to locate coordinates on a map. As our world gets closer, students should also have the ability to identify countries. Yes, again, it’s just a click away, but when the phone is off / internet is down / someone asks you and you don’t want to look foolish / [insert your own here]…
Digital Citizenship. We all know citizenship, but go ahead and google ‘digital citizenship’ if you don’t know it. I’m happy to see many school districts implement digital citizenship classes as early as 4th grade. From how to research online to proper image citation, students need to understand that cutting-n-pasting is not OK; neither is doing your report based on Wikipedia articles.
If you think this is a bit biased on my behalf, it is. I taught social studies for nine years before becoming an administrator. Nine years of inspiring, awakening, and remind my students that in the end, history matters.