The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.
The field is motivated by a desire to understand and explain real-world social phenomena while academia in the field is not purposely directed towards that end. Instead, social scientists are taught a theoretical framework and then apply it to every problem they work on. Academics are rewarded by publishing papers in peer-reviewed journals. Examples of theoretical frameworks are critical analysis, new institutionalism and instrumental variables. These are applied singly and little effort is dedicated to reconciling conflicting hypotheses or results emanating from the use of differing frameworks. Proposed theories are seldom tested in practice as seldom make an attempt to predict outcomes and in the cases they do, they come with large margins for error. Forwarded hypotheses may also either be untestable or the test may require larger resources to test than anyone is willing to provide. Thus hypotheses in the field gain support for other reasons than their ability to account for empirical observations.
temizing and Explaining the objectives of Social Studies
First Objective-Be Systematic
In overall pattern the course may be likened to an extended five-ribbed fan with the parchment covering only the upper two-thirds of the length of the ribs. Then Social Studies 7, the introductory or supporting course, entitled “Our Beginnings”, is represented by the area below the parchment. Social Studies 8, 10, 20, 30, are modern courses, and are represented by the unbroken parchment band wherein four divisions are indicated by the supporting ribs yet wherein no real division exists. While all five courses must attempt to serve diverse purposes, still each has a distinctive pattern: for Social Studies 7 it is Ancient Times; for Social Studies 8 it is Canada among the Nations; for Social Studies 10 it is the effect of environment on Culture; for Social Studies 20 it is the non-government aspects of World Cultures today; for Social Studies 30 it is Modern Problems of Government, especially self-government.
Second Objective-Survey the Course of History
This objective is no doubt legitimate, but must be held within reasonable limits. Consequently, the story approach, well suited to a condensation of the findings of the academic historians, has been used in Social Studies 7 and Social Studies 8, and the chronological order has been purposely preserved in Social Studies 20 and 30, and in sections of Social Studies 10. Even when the story approach is used, however, its rapid pace must be broken for occasional leisurely and more intimate study of a few periods and a few selected personalities. Consequently, the course moves hastily often that it may proceed leisurely at times; that it may yield the overall perspective the “time-sense” desired and still serve other objectives too.
Third Objective-Survey the Globe
Here again we have an indisputable, legitimate aim, but again one whose demands have to be reconciled with those of other equally legitimate objectives. Consequently, geographic areas studied carefully while tracing the course of history are given only nominal geographic consideration in Social Studies 10, where the effects of the environment on the nature and development of regional cultures is specifically studied. Thus some time-saving is effected. Ten further, a classification of climatic-vegetation regions is built up in Social Studies 10, which enables all regions in a single classification to be treated with reasonable thoroughness by merely noting their special features. Likewise, it is partly to meet the requirements of the third objective above that maps and atlases are to be prominently featured in all courses and are commended as an invaluable tool for the consideration of current events throughout all courses. Likewise, films which may contribute generously to an understanding of the geography of other lands are consistently commended as instructional aids. Despite all this, however, further coverage may be justified. When it is and when it can be effected without encroaching unreasonably on the time required for other objectives it should be undertaken incidentally or specifically as the educational needs of specific times or classes require.
Fourth Objective-Do Not Overlook Any of the Social Sciences
The entire course is intended to be a true Social Studies programme-one where the findings of any or all the social sciences are adapted to the student level and employed whenever they afford additional insight into problems under consideration. For example, Social Studies 10 extensively employs the geographer’s or environmentalist’s approach. Nevertheless, without the contribution of historians, economists, sociologists, and others, Social Studies 10 would be inexcusably restricted. Conversely, other courses in the programme, not primarily concerned with geography, all require a certain amount of map work. Thus some “geography” is a part of every course. Likewise, some contribution form each of the social sciences should find its way into every course. Nevertheless, in the interests of the First Objective (Be Systematic) as well as the Fourth Objective, each of the principal social sciences is given prominence-but not monopoly-in certain of the courses.
Thus it is hoped that the interests of both “integration” and “concentration” may be served.
Fifth Objective-Make it Interesting
Wishful thinking to the contrary, “making it interesting” remains the teacher’s prerogative and art. Courses of study can only provide the necessary tools, and perhaps suggest alternate ways and means of using them; the teacher alone can “finish the job.” Many “tools” are provided: these are too obvious and too numerous to require specific listing. Indeed, perhaps too much assistance has been given or proferred. If so, this has been done to orient the beginning teacher and must not be regarded as a limitation on, or a substitute for, the initiative, resourcefulness, and adaptability of the more experienced teacher. Teachers make their programmes of instruction from the course. The course itself is only a framework for numerous instructional programmes which, under varying yet specific circumstances, best serve the general and special objectives5 of social studies instruction. Thus, topical outlines, textbook treatment, illustrative units, sample tests, and the like herein generously provided must be regarded as suggestive leads only. They are especially designed to aid the inexperienced, not to prescribe rigidly standardized pattern or routine for all instructional programmes for all teachers. To so limit the freedom of Social Studies teachers in the exercise of their professional judgment, within the framework of the course as prescribed, as to the best way of achieving the general and specific objectives of the course, would militate strongly against student interest, and consequently against the objectives which the course endeavors to achieve.
Sixth Objective-Do Not Make the Course Too Heavy
After being urged to trace the time-line, cover the globe, sample all the social sciences, high-light things Canadian, and above all make it interesting, one cannot help feeling that the injunction “do not make the course too heavy” comes as something of an anti-climax. Yet this sixth objective must be met fully or all suffer-the other objectives, the teachers, and the pupils; and verbal glibness about many topics poses as a training in citizenship.
Consequently, throughout the programme a variety of devices have been used in an attempt to keep the course from becoming overloaded. For example, it was felt that the substantial body of material of Britain’s development normally provided for Canadian scholars should be retained, even augmented. Yet it was not possible to do this in conventional fashion with a separate course or course on British history. And, since such isolated treatment of national cultures is further condemned, as militating against integration, there is no single course in the programme devoted exclusively to Britain’s history and culture. Instead, Britain’s history and cultural achievements have a prominent place in every course.
As a part of Social Studies 7, Britain’s story begins in pre-Roman times and is carried forward to about 1500. In Social Studies 8 it is carried forward in chronological survey fashion to modern times. This overview treatment is provided in Social Studies 8 as an introduction to the integrated study of Canada Among the Nations, and as a preview for the more detailed study of special facets of British culture undertaken in later courses. In Social Studies 10 the geography of Britain is studied, and the environmental approach is used to bring the British Commonwealth and Empire into focus that it may be studied from other aspects as well as the geographical one. In Social Studies 20 the non-governmental aspects of Britain’s culture are studied; Literature, Art, Music, Economics, and so forth. Herein Britain’s industrial development, her co-operative movement and her labour unions come up for careful attention. In Social Studies 30 Britain’s contributions to the art of government-notably democratic government-are carefully reviewed and studied. Thus by using the integrated approach, it is hoped that little if anything has been lost in “coverage” while something has been gained in economy and educational effectiveness by displaying Britain’s development along with that of other nations-notably Canada, of course-and not as a n isolated phenomenon.
Other techniques as well as the foregoing have been used to keep the programme from being “too heavy”-survey treatment, sampling, multiple purpose treatment (as for Britain and Canada), choice of synoptic texts and the like. Nevertheless, the sole responsibility toward the Sixth Objective cannot be discharged by any printed outline. Insofar as possible the courses published herein have been tried out in sample classrooms. It was found they were not too heavy if the teacher took his full share of responsibility for making professional judgments as to the amount of detail to be included and the number of topics that should be treated in survey fashion that others might be treated in greater detail. If these judgments are not assumed by the teacher, all courses are obviously too heavy in the sense that they can be made so. Any topic, The French Revolution, The Industrial Revolution, or what you will, is too heavy for a whole year’s work let alone a month’s work, if one’s perfectly natural-and commendable-desire for thoroughness is not carefully scrutinized and brought within reasonable limits.
Unfortunately, the programme may even have increased the teacher’s difficulty with the Sixth Objective by endeavoring to provide plenty of outlines, suggestions, references, flexible time limits, and so forth on many topics in an endeavor to invite students and teachers to make occasional interest-directed excursions from the beaten track. If these leads prove too inviting, if the teachers try to follow all or too many of them, overloading is inevitable. Consequently, the Sixth Objective requires that teachers are fully appraised of their freedom to adapt topical outlines, detailed suggestions, unit plans and the like to secure the greatest possible returns from the particular social studies classes in which these courses are employed. With this freedom, of course, goes an equal amount of professional responsibility. It is earnestly hoped, therefore, that teachers will not lightly regard this freedom to exercise their professional responsibility, within the framework and objectives of the programme, to keep the following courses from becoming too heavy. No other safeguard against overloading seems adequate.
Seventh Objective-Be Democratic in Leadership
From its very beginning, in public meetings called by the Minister of Education in Victoria and Vancouver to its classroom trials in representative classes of teen-age students, this programme has been throughout a venture in co-operation.
Herein no attempt could be made to acknowledge by name all those persons whose suggestions, submissions, sample units and the like were used in building this course, because of the space such a listing would require. Nor is it felt that any such listing is necessary because of the spirit in which the contributions of time and effort were made. Herein, regrettably from the point of view of the Seventh Objective, only the conventional listing of those most directly concerned could be included. Even this listing, however, speaks clearly of the wide variety of talents drawn upon in building this programme. Probably the prominence of teachers among the curriculum personnel is one of its most notably and noteworthy features. It is especially noteworthy by the teachers themselves for it displays not only a rightful share of recognition to teachers of their work in building the curriculum, but also emphasizes the continuing nature of their responsibility that the programme may be progressively improved and effectively adapted to meet the varying class room needs of particular classes. Thus the following course is not regarded as a project completed, a fait accompli as it were, but only as the co-operative beginning of a co-operative process.
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