Academic journal article Social Education

Crossing Borders, Building Bridges *

Academic journal article Social Education

Crossing Borders, Building Bridges *

Article excerpt

Welcome to the 87th conference of the National Council for the Social Studies. Buenos Dias! I want to begin by recognizing some members of the audience who are very special to me: my husband Don, who has been my steadfast and supportive partner for 39 years; my son Robert, my daughter Cindy, and her husband Jim, who keep me young; my cousins Andrea and Chris, who are both teachers; my good friends Margaret and Sue, who came here all the way from Portland; and especially my conference co-chair, Diane Hart, who has co-planned every detail of this conference with grace and creativity.

Since becoming a teacher in the early 1970s, I have taught in Illinois, Colorado, and Alaska. I became a high school administrator in Alaska and then continued in Washington. Eight years ago, I joined the faculty at Portland State University in Oregon, where I teach today in the Graduate School of Education.

With over 25,000 members in the United States and 69 other countries, NCSS is the world's largest association of social studies educators. This conference includes presenters from Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Germany, Jamaica, Korea, Lebanon, Mexico, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

Through a partnership with the Center for Civic Education, we have invited 21 educational leaders from Mexico to attend this year's conference as our special guests and presenters. This summer, I attended a Spanish language immersion school in Morelia, Mexico, so I could welcome these guests in their native language.

Twenty years ago, in 1987, I attended my first NCSS conference in Dallas, Texas, as the president of the Alaska Council for Social Studies. The conference theme was Social Studies: Teaching and Learning for the 21st Century. I was so inspired by the program developed by NCSS President Jan Tucker that I vowed to come to NCSS every year. And I have. To prepare for this presentation, I read the NCSS Presidential Addresses from 1970-2000. (1) These speeches present a fascinating history of the challenges facing our organization and our profession as social studies educators. You will hear me reference the wisdom of previous NCSS presidents throughout this speech as we consider some of those challenges, and how NCSS is respond ing to them, both at this meeting and throughout the year.

Before turning to those challenges, however, I'd like us all to take a moment to reflect on the mission of NCSS. I remember sitting in the House of Delegates in 1992 when we voted to approve this statement of purpose for social studies:

   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. (2)

The debate was lengthy and spirited, and in the end the House of Delegates adopted this statement of purpose. That statement inspired the theme of this conference: Crossing Borders, Building Bridges. For to fulfill our mission both as educators and an organization, we will have to do both.

Now let's look at some of the challenges we face in fulfilling our mission.

The first one is the challenge of living in a global age. Our country is linked with the rest of the world in a web of economic, political, demographic, cultural, technological, and ecological connections. Our schools are filled with students who bring diverse languages, cultures, and talents to enrich our communities. In 1992, NCSS President Charlotte Anderson (who is receiving the Distinguished Global Scholar Award today) identified "the context for civic competence as one of cultural diversity and global interdependence." (3) We must help our students understand and address global issues. Our students need to learn from, and work collaboratively with, individuals representing diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue. …

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