Materials of instruction
The general objects . . . are to provide an education adapted to the years, to the capacity, and the condition of every one, and directed to their freedom and happiness.
THOMAS JEFFERSON, 1784
The long range objective of social studies instruction is competent citizenship which is composed of knowledge, tolerant attitudes and acceptable behavior. The shorter range vehicle for achieving the greater aim is an organized sequence of specific information and certain techniques, coupled with the hope that more acceptable patterns of behavior will emerge along the way. This short range program may be a course in history, geography of the world, a study of the family in America, basic economics or any of the other diverse subjects which may present themselves. In any case, there will be a body of related information and a number of skills to master.
Critical thought is a great part of adequate citizenship. Its achievement depends partly upon intelligence, but mostly upon mastery of knowledge and a technique. A way in which to think, deductive-inductive reasoning which we call a scientific method, is quite essential and can be learned as a technique if accompanied by an attitude of willingness. It is, however, absolutely necessary to have a body of information about which to think, critically or otherwise. In general, it is reasonable to expect that critical attitudes of thought will develop if knowledge is gained by the method of scientific examination which has made possible the extension of civilization to the present time. In other words, gaining the objective of competent citizenship, with its element of critical thought, will be more likely to accrue with the acquisition of knowledge concerning the growth of that society in which citizenship is a birthright and in which the methodology itself grew.