The Status of Social Studies

Ponder, Gerald
October 1979
Education Digest;Oct1979, Vol. 45 Issue 2, p43
This article focuses on the status of social studies education in the U.S. The past two decades have witnessed great changes in the public perception of social studies education. In the mid-1950s, history and geography dominated a social studies curriculum intended by tacit assumption to produce "good citizens" literate in the leaders and landmarks of the past. During 1970s, the social studies curriculum was to become organized by the concepts and principles of the scientific disciplines instead of by the chronological organization of history. Students were to inquire into causality and develop their own generalizations from primary source material, from direct observation of social events and processes, and from games and simulations. For teachers, the focus was to shift from delivering information to asking questions and raising issues of personal values and social controversy. Despite extensive attention to the skills and strategies of inquiry teaching in the prescriptive literature, it is little used in social studies classrooms, and many teachers who tried inquiry-oriented approaches have abandoned them.


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