Comparison of Elementary Social Studies Curricula of Turkey and the United States on Values Education*

Article excerpt


The purpose of this study is to compare the social studies teaching curricula of Turkey and the United States in terms of values education. The study is a model case study that relies upon one of the qualitative research methods. The data come from the elementary social studies curricula of both countries through the documents analysis method. The results of the study demonstrate that the social studies' curriculum of Turkey has more emphasis on individual and social values such as sensitivity, responsibility, solidarity, science, philanthropy, and patriotism, etc. On the other hand, the social studies curricula of the United States lays more emphasis on individual and social values such as sensitivity, science, responsibility, solidarity, and respect for individual rights, as well as democratic values such as diversity (difference), public good, and prevention of conflict .

Key Words

Values, Social Studies, Social Studies Curricula, Turkey, the United States.

A value is a belief about whether or not something is desirable (Güngör, 1978). Values are the standards we use to judge human behavior (Chapin, 2009; NCSS Task Force, 1989; Van Cleaf, 1991; Zarrillo, 2004). It is required that some values should be gained by each individual to enter into educational system in order to maintain harmony in the society and to get the society focused on the same target by gathering the society around the same goal. Values education plays an important role in transmitting values and culture to future generations (Tezcan, 1991).

Based on these ideas, it is a fact that in our country, Turkey, special importance is given to values education, similar to many other countries. In social studies courses for first and second level (grades 4-5 and 6-7 respectively), in which an instructional curriculum has been implemented since 2005, values and values education have been discussed and values which must be instilled in students have been identified (Keskin, 2008; Milli Egitim Bakanligi [MEB], 2011a, 2011b; Yel & Aladag, 2009).

There is a very important place for values education in the United States, with the Center for Civic Education having established certain standards for values education. Several values have been treated as basic values in social studies teaching, and they have been recommended to be taught at the elementary level as basic values. These values are an individual's fundamental rights and freedoms (right to life, liberty ... etc.), including the pursuit of happiness, justice, equal opportunity, diversity, integrity, patriotism and responsibility (Chapin, 2009; Chapin & Messick, 2002; Hoge, Field, Foster, & Nickell, 2004; Parker, 2009; Seefeldt, 1997; Van Cleaf, 1991; Zarrillo, 2004). It is commonly believed that there is a consensus among Americans that these values should be considered important. The philosophical foundations of democratic values depend on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, the Seneca Falls Resolution, the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln's statements (Parker).

In addition to the democratic values expressed above, in the United states some values and concepts related to the values education such as open- mindedness, fairness, justice, constitutionality, point of view, internationality, unity, freedom, pluralism, democracy, order, equity, effectiveness, privacy, faith, the government, co-operation, nationhood, participation in decisions, self-discipline (self-control, self-confidence) , authority, freedom, self-esteem, loyalty, respect, security, prevention of conflict, strength, tolerance, honor, leadership, civil society, reconciliation, and becoming a citizen are recommended as topics for teaching at different levels of education (Ellis, 2002; Sunal & Haas, 2005). Also, the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: A framework for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment prepared by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) recommends that all states teach four categories of values (NCSS, 1994, 2010). …


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