Social Studies for the Twenty-First Century: Methods and Materials for Teaching in Middle and Secondary Schools

By Jack Zevin | Go to book overview

Preface

In the sky there is no East or West
We make these distinctions in the mind
Then believe them to be true
Everything in the world comes from the
mind, like objects appearing from the
sleeve of a magician

-- The Buddha, Lankavatara Sutra

You are invited to use this book as a guide for teaching social studies at the middle and secondary levels. As much as possible, I provide you with a fair and balanced review of the field using up-to-date curriculum, research, and theory. Social studies is a large and complex field, seeming so fragmented at times that its essence is difficult to grasp. Therefore, throughout the sixteen chapters, social studies theory, goals, curriculum, and everyday practice are viewed in terms of three components: the didactic, reflective, and affective.

Didactic refers to all teaching and learning activities that revolve around gathering knowledge from memorizing dates to matching tests. Reflective concerns all activities that focus on analyzing and thinking about data, research, or issues for which more than one answer is possible. Affective deals with all those facets of classroom life in which feelings, opinions, values, ethics, and morality dominate. Thus each component has a different, though not exclusive, focus: didactic on the what, reflective on the why, and affective on the should or ought. Each component is discussed as contributing to and complementing the others; each enriches classroom discussion and learning. In addition to basic philosophy, there will be informative boxes scattered throughout with information for you to think about. These include tidbits about research (Research Reports), items to stimulate ideas (Let's Decide), instructional gimmicks (Sample Lessons), and places for you to get involved with activities that grow out of each section (To Do).

This text is organized into six parts. Part One, "Philosophy and History of the Social Studies," includes two chapters that lay out the underlying arguments of the book, including the tripartite structure of instruction in the social studies (didactic, reflective, and affective), and the view that social studies is a single field of study that incorporates history and the social sciences, as well as borrowing now and then from the humanities and the sciences.

Part Two, "Teachers and Students," provides a context for understanding the ways in which teachers plan instruction for middle and secondary social studies classrooms. We look at the roles teachers play to promote knowledge goals, provoke imaginative thinking, and stimulate the examination of values. Then we also look at the student population you will teach -- both the typical developmental characteristics of young adults and the instructional adaptations you can make to meet the needs of both regular and special students.

Part Three, "Strategies for Social Studies Instruction," and Part Four, "Teaching the Social Studies Curriculum," provide specific guidance for the social studies classroom teacher. Part Three contains information about organizing for

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