Robert Siegel

Director

Philomath, OR

Interests: 21st Century Learning,...

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K-8 Social Sciences for the 21st Century-Part 1

A K-8 Social Science Curriculum for the 21st Century - Part 1

 

As indicated in previous blog posts, I will be begin a series of posts on the topic of how we might re-think the social sciences as we move tumultuously toward humankind's evolution towards one common family on this interconnected and interdependent planet.

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Perhaps these blogs will incite a negative response from certain educators, educational associations and most likely legislators and political factions.  This can be assumed by taking a simple look at the premise upon which the social sciences are built in the United States, perhaps expounded so definitively by this statement made by Michael Hartoonian, member of the Curriculum Standards Task Force of the National Council for the Social Studies:

The world is diverse, ethically challenged, yet globally interdependent, and the task of ‘bringing the blessing of the American dream to all’ calls for citizens with a new sense of purpose.  Given the realities of today’s world and the desire of U.S. citizens to carry the ideals of our republic into the future, it is necessary that we create a new vision for our work as social studies educators. (National Council for the Social Studies 1994, preface)

 

            Meritorious as the opening statements and further curricular content may be, nevertheless, the underlying purpose and fundamental impulse for the study of the social sciences in the United States appears to be the fruition of the work of a global manifest destiny which was the basis for the forming of the nation.  Some of the possible negative responses to the idea of a “transition toward a global society” may also stem from a built up educational inertia by what has been called the “deep structure of American schools” (Tye 1992, p. 10) and resistance by some who may feel alarmed by the term “global” thinking, that any such efforts are a threat to national unity and security.  An extensive analysis of such criticism is found in Steven L. Lamy’s Global Education: A Conflict of Images, published as part of ASCD’s Yearbook on Global Education: From Action to Thought (ASCD 1991).  Yet, I wish to make clear from the beginning that there are no intentions of eliminating or even minimizing the social and community-building benefits of instilling healthy patriotism.  The intention is rather to educate for an empathic understanding of a primarily wider loyalty to humankind and the common good, and secondarily to create a respect for and appreciation of how each of the distinguishing peoples of the world fit into the mosaic whole.  To more fully comprehend the concepts that will be developed in this series of blogs, it is felt necessary to first give a brief description (in Part 2 of the blog series) of key words and terminologies for a true understanding of which will later be more apparent as they are referred to in a broader context.

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Tye, Barbara (1991). Curriculum Considerations in Global Studies, printed in the ASCD 1991 Yearbook: Global Education from Thought to Action. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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