K-8 Soc Science for 21st Century-Part 4
Topics to be Discussed
This blog will, to a lesser degree, present the case of the positive eventuality of humankind’s trajectory toward life on this planet as a single human community. It will explore the conflicts and sacrifices that are characteristic of the metamorphosis of giving birth to such a community through the exploration of concepts such as new world order, age of transition, global society, world citizenship, and unity in diversity among others. Notwithstanding, the emphasis will be on the creation of a K-8 Social Science Curricular Framework that can contribute towards the preparation and development of our young people to face the challenges of living in and contributing toward such a society. It will attempt to be sufficiently generic and universal in its scope to be adaptable to a diverse population - from Europe to South America to North America and perhaps, to a lesser degree, the Middle East and Africa. It will not claim to be applicable to Asia or the Far East, because of my own ignorance on such cultures and lack of time for further research. Yet this could be the subject of an enriched study once this framework is tested and piloted. The restriction to the K-8 levels is for the same reasons as well as the desire of the writer to work primarily on the educational foundation of our youngest people, where one-world values, the development of virtues and prejudice prevention can be most effective and long lasting. This is because the area of social science curricular development connects to many of the so-called “soft” disciplines such as sociology, historical journalism, anthropology, behavior development and management, and perhaps psychology. Therefore, the influence of external factors, role modeling and ethical lenses through which the content is passed will be efficiently transmitted at the early stages of human development.
The writer feels that there needs to be an entirely inverse approach towards developing a curriculum for the social sciences. What will be proposed will be an outside-in rather than inside-out approach to its understanding.
Due recognition needs to be made for the credible theory that as biological and social beings we first know or recognize our mother, our family, our extended family, our neighborhood, our community, and so on. This is mostly as a result of physical limitations to developmental mobility. Yet, to consider that the capacity of the young child to understand and learn is also limited to that same physical range and progression once formal education begins seems to me to be a misnomer. Advances in communication and media technology have challenged our physical limitations and “natural” developmental processes by thrusting the world upon us, taking “real time” events into the privacy and what was thought to be controllable surroundings such as our living rooms. To ignore the impact upon what is now “developmentally appropriate” to our children is to be drowned in the sea of denial. When suggesting that a lesson be included about all peoples of the world being part of one family, I have actually had a 2nd grade teacher claim that it was inappropriate to talk about other countries and peoples since her students were not able to comprehend the notion of world, let alone consider the concept of the oneness of the human race. “Who should claim that the life space of a six-year-old is limited to the local environment when each evening the child may view television accounts of events in progress from anywhere in the world?” (Parker 1991, p. 107).
The curricular framework will be based on the premise that first and foremost we are all human beings, and that a wide loyalty exists to our species as a result of that predominant commonality. In other words, the unity of the species will be the foundation for the study of the social sciences, the oneness of humankind becomes a given, and the diversity of its component parts are accidental and secondary but at the same time an enriching phenomena. One way that this may be accomplished is through the modification of the typical strands of the social science curriculum. Nearly all social science curriculums start with the “strand” or “domain” called history. As a result, looking back occurs within the lenses of the current societal branch of civilization, with all the premises, biases, traditions and past experiences that necessary accompany it. If we were to cover much the same content but call the strand humankind, the outcomes, expectations and social and emotional learning that will take place will be decisively different. Rather than discover how and why we are what we are as citizens of the United States, of Chile, of Mongolia or of France, we would look at humankind’s trajectory and even destiny more wholistically as one race, and identify, through social science analysis, the causes and effects of the diversity that challenges this wholism in order to make the transition toward a true global society. Although there are other ways to organize a curriculum framework (i.e. thematic, situational, problematic, etc.), I would like to maintain a more traditional strand approach so as to ease adaptability into what are generally accepted existing standards and expand the learning objectives within the curricular framework along these lines.
This blog will also, to a lesser degree, incorporate significant events such as current educational reforms and present specific references to Congress’ No Child Left Behind Act and subsequent educational reforms of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It will also address specifically the latest versions of some state standards in the USA and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills curriculum framework, since the "core standards" movement underway nationally in the USA does not include the social sciences (yet).
Parker, Walter C. (1991). Renewing the Social Studies Curriculum. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.