In Defense of Studying Social Studies

Carly Muetterties
Carly Muetterties
1 Aug 16
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As someone employed in a social studies field, you are aware of how studying one of these disciplines is often discouraged, undervalued, and even, the butt of jokes.

Recently, the Los Angeles Times printed an Op-Ed defending the study of history, highlighting the value of the skills being taught in these classes. I won’t rehash the entire LA Times article.  The crux of his argument is that the humanities help create critically thinking individuals, who do quite well in the long term across many different career paths. To be able to do history, means one can analyze and interpret in consideration of larger contextual forces, which helps ready students for tackling the issues they will encounter in college, their careers, and in their civic lives. Sound familiar?

Download a FREE K-5 whitepaper on Reading in the Social Studies Classroom.

This article was very well-timed, as I had already planned to write about the C3 Instructional Shift: “promote literacy practices and outcomes.” Though the social studies share the responsibility of fostering literacy skills, this instructional shift is referring to the particular literacies of the different social studies disciplines. History does not bear the entire burden of this, as all of us know. Literacies, or the lenses through which we assess a topic/issue, vary between the social studies disciplines. Being able to think geographically, economically, politically, and historically require different skill sets. A great visual of this is in the C3 Framework – the concept of “liberty” is approached by four separate disciplines. They certainly overlap each other, but nonetheless reflect distinct approaches.

Download a FREE 6-12 whitepaper on Reading Social Studies Texts: Best Practices in Action

Effective instruction in the social studies equips students with these disciplinary literacies. It also means you are providing students with the opportunity to conscientiously address these different lenses—they can recognize that there are a myriad of ways to approach any topic. Ultimately, fostering their desire to seek to understand, rather than to determine “the answer.”


Click here to view all of Pearson’s preK-12 Social Studies curriculum solutions.

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