California's History-Social Science Framework Revisited: A Focus on Implementation Successes

Article excerpt

"By emphasizing history and geography and offering more in-depth thought-provoking units, California educators hope to enrich students, understanding of our nation and the world." (Alexander and Crabtree, 1988, p. 10). This was the vision embodied in California's new History-Social Science Framework adopted on July 9, 1987- and published in 1988.

Now- seven years later -- it seems appropriate to revisit this framework that has been described by many as a landmark document. California's History-social Science Framework "returns history to the core of the social studies curriculum ... increases the number of years devoted to the study of the United States and world history ... deepens the study of history through the rich use of literature ... and celebrates throughout the multicultural pluralistic nature of American society ..." (Alexander & Crabtree (1988). Throughout these studies three major goals are integrated within the framework: (1) The Goal of Knowledge and Cultural Understanding, (2) The Goal of Democratic Understanding and Civic Values, and (3) The Goal of Skills Attainment and Social Participation.

The new framework embodies ideas dating back to early committees of distinguished university historians and teachers- The Committee of Ten (1892), the Committee of Seven (1899),-and culminates in the national Bradley Committee on History in Schools. The recommendations of these committees "call for a history and geography-centered social studies program for the early grades, emphasizing lively, engaging readings from history, mythology, biography, legend, and literature ...", and lengthens the amount of time students study history in specified grade levels (Gagnon, 1988, p. 38) Even though Paul Gagnon (1988), a noted historian, viewed the new framework as the first attempt to put these ideas into action, he raised questions related to its implementation. He envisioned, a long road to travel before the superb body of learning prescribed by the California Framework is translated into effective daily lessons for the huge and highly varied population in the state's classrooms." (p. 48). This paper focuses on a portion of his questions that include the following: "Will the California framework be successfully implemented? Can its subject matter be well taught without improvement in teacher education ...?" (p. 48). This article addresses these questions -- based on the experiences and observations of an educator of teachers. Frequent classroom visits reveal the successes of experienced teachers as they implement goals sets forth in the California framework, however, the focus of this article is on the successes of new and prospective teachers. A brief discussion outlining the elements necessary for successful framework implementation is followed by a glimpse into selected elementary classrooms.

Elements of Successful

Framework Implementation

Traditionally, implementation successes have been dependent on the level of program knowledge possessed by those involved, and by the quality of support provided during implementation. Successful implementation of the California History-Social Science Framework is directly related to improvement in teacher education programs. The focus must be on providing prospective teacher with the knowledge skills, and a repertoire of strategies that will enable them to implement those meaningful goals set forth in the state framework. The need for prospective teachers to become knowledgeable about stated framework goals has not gone unheeded. A major mission of large urban universities -- such as California State University, Los Angeles -- is to prepare prospective teachers to meet the needs of a diverse student population. The goals embodied in the current framework are emphasized in teacher preparation courses that focus on the social sciences. As prospective teachers progress through their methods classes, they develop skills in analyzing, developing, applying, and evaluating strategies embodied in the current History-Social Science Framework. …