Social Education

Official journal of the National Council for the Social Studies.

Articles from Vol. 68, No. 5, September

A Guide to the Presidential Debates
THE NATIONALLY TELEVISED presidential debates play a decisive role in presidential elections. Though such debates only began in 1960 when John F. Kennedy faced off against Richard Nixon, they have become an essential part of the campaign process. They...
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A Union of Railroad Workers Sets the Pace
During the century spanning the years 1868-1968, the African-American railroad attendant's presence on the train became an American tradition. By the 1920s, a peak decade for the railroads, more than twenty thousand African-Americans were working as...
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Beyond Guest Speakers: This Inaugural Column about Democracy Education Explains How to Involve Politicians, Political Activists, and Candidates in Interactive Lessons to Maximize Student Engagement and Learning
WHEN I WAS TEACHING high school social studies I frequently invited political office holders, candidates, and political activists to speak to my classes. Exposing students to people working directly in the political system, I reasoned, would not only...
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Diary of a Railroad Construction Engineer, 1868
Before a railroad track could be laid, a survey team had to plan its course over rivers, and around or through hills and mountains. Read these passages from the diary of A. N. Ferguson, who worked as a Civil Engineer for the Union Pacific Rail Road....
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Editor's Notebook
A CLOSELY FOUGHT ELECTION, such as the contest we anticipate this year, puts the social studies classroom "at center stage" in schools and offers many unrivaled teachable moments to ensure that our future voters understand the principles and practices...
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How Are Teachers Responding to Globalization?
"Research and Practice," established early in 2001, features educational research that is directly relevant to the work of classroom teachers. Here, I invited global education scholar Merry Merryfield to help us understand what "global education" looks...
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Laying Track over the Sierra Nevada
AN ASTOUNDING CONSTRUCTION FEAT of Chinese Americans was the work done on the western section of the transcontinental railroad. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new line took place in Sacramento in 1863, but up until 1865, less than 50 miles of...
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Robert E. Lee's Demand for the Surrender of John Brown
BORN IN TORRINGTON, CONNECTICUT, on May 9, 1800, John Brown was the son of a wandering New Englander. Brown spent much of his youth in Ohio, where his parents taught him to revere the Bible and to hate slavery During the course of two marriages, Brown...
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Teaching about the Electoral College: David Dulio and the Staff of the National Student/Parent Mock Election
IT IS A FACT LITTLE KNOWN by many students that when citizens step into the voting booth on election day and select the name of the candidate they wish to be president, they are not actually voting for the individual whose name is on the ballot. Rather,...
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Teaching History in a Post-Industrial Age
The first time I fell in love with history was on a fifth grade field trip. Our teacher had taken us to a historic house. The stoop of the house had a handprint image, and the curator explained to my class that this print was made by the builder's...
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Teaching the Election Process in Ten Days
AN ELECTION YEAR provides the perfect opportunity for teachers to incorporate civics into the curriculum. Through the election process, teachers can implement citizenship lessons and at the same time provide a model for the democratic system in the...
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The Anticipation Guide: Motivating Students to Find out about History
THE ANTICIPATION GUIDE is a strategy in which students forecast the major ideas of a reading passage through the use of statements that activate their thoughts and opinions. This strategy is helpful in activating students' prior knowledge and stimulating...
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The Politics of Pronouns
THE PRONOUN IS A MODEST PART OF SPEECH. Lacking an identity of its own, the pronoun only stands in for someone or something else. Pronouns are so quiet, so common, and so seemingly familiar that we don't quite notice them. But pronouns are sly as well...
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The Presidency and Presidential Elections in the Elementary Classroom
THIS PAST JUNE, a young boy waiting in line with his family in Washington, D.C., to view President Reagan's coffin told a news reporter that he had recently completed a school report on the former president. The youth recalled three principal facts:...
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The Role of American Values in the 2004 Election
THE WORDS "VALUES" AND "AMERICAN VALUES" have been nearly ubiquitous in presidential election coverage on television and radio, in the print media, and on the Internet. But, as teachers, we know that it's a touchy topic to cover in the classroom. Trying...
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The Teachable Moment: Election 2004: Every Social Studies Class Holds Special Importance This Fall. Thoughtful Young Citizens Are Being Formed and in Presidential Election Years, No Future Voter Can Be Left Behind
THE ORIGINAL IMPETUS BEHIND the creation of free public education was the need for an informed electorate. Social studies stands at center stage every four years in American schools, and in a welcome reversal, English teachers collaborate with us as...
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Train Schedules, Standardization, and "The Day of Two Noons"
THE ADVENT OF THE RAILROADS brought with it the need for standardization in many ways. For example, in Civil War days there were eight different rail gauges (the measured distance between one rail and other), with the result that the engines or train...
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Turning Back the Hands: A Quiet Change to the Standard Time Stopping the Pendulums in the City Cocks and in the Railroad Stations
At just 9 o'clock, local time, yesterday morning Mr. James Hamblet, General Superintendent of the Time Telegraph Company, and manager of the time service of Western Union Telegraph Company, stopped the pendulum of his standard clock in Room No. 48...
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Turning out the Youthful Vote
VOTER TURNOUT in presidential elections has trended downward over the last four decades. During the 1960s, more than 60 percent of people old enough to vote cast their ballots in presidential elections, but in more recent elections the typical voter...
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"Workin' on the Railroad": African American Labor History
IN THE SPRING OF 2003 I worked with a team of eighth grade teachers at Asheville Middle School in North Carolina on a project that combined fine art, music, the history of the railroads, and the African American experience in our state and nation....
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