Why do we study Social Studies?

“How important do you think it is for children to know why they are studying social studies. If you feel that it is important to know why you are learning something, then how might you go about ensuring that your future students could answer the question, What is social studies and why is it an important subject to study in school.”

When I remember about the subject of Social Studies that I have taken, I knew it was important information that I must have and I did enjoy learning most part. Although I wish I had taken them a little more seriously and paid closer attention,there were few areas that I convinced myself I did not need it for my future: citizenship, government system, and contemporary histories and issues. (Currently I am very interested in all those areas though.)

But why did I neglect these areas so much?  Perhaps, the ways it was taught; as well, the preconceptions I had on these areas from my experiences as a young person must have played a big part on it.

(It sounds very old to say this… but) Back in my days in mid 1980s to mid 1990s in Japan, all of my teachers used transmissive and authoritative style of teaching. Following the textbook, asking to memorize information/facts (as a textbook say, ignoring other of stories) for quizzes and exams. It was like information over load and I felt there was no real connection to my life. (Though, I did love geography and prehistoric part of history no matter what. Because I really wanted to travel the world and thought it would be cool to be an archaeologist like Indiana Jones.)

Let’s talk about my preconceptions of the government and contemporary histories and issues.
I think I was always skeptical and cynical toward the government to start with, not specifically one but the function of government itself, I suppose. I did not like the fact that there were still wars going on around the world although the people who run the government must’ve learned history. Moreover, the government asks the people to be patriotic and sacrifice for the country and the government really does not  compensate the people in the end. Why didn’t I want to make it better? I was never encouraged for any social change through my schooling. I played a role of conforming, compliant and passive student who would not get in a trouble. I played it safe.

Things changed for me when I came to Fort Qu’Appelle Elementary School in 2000. Students were encouraged to do community services and they were confident and proud doing so. Although some basic academic skills (especially in math) seemed a little bit lower at times, students appeared more mature and capable beings compared to when I was a student in Japan.

I think it is important for students to know that they are important part of community and they can contribute to better the society. And Social Studies can be a very practical subject to engage in society immediately. I want to provide authentic and relevant learning opportunities for students to engage in. I hope I can create a safe environment for students where we can learn and work together for social justice. I want students to feel confident and empowered, they have the opportunity to shape the future. For students to have a sense of themselves as active participants and citizens in an inclusive, culturally diverse, interdependent world. (Social Studies Aims and Goals, Sask. Curriculum)

 

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