I would like to begin with stating that I did wrestle for a couple of days with my thoughts for writing my 2nd blog post. In light of the recent events that transpired in our nation’s capital, I am compelled to address a growing trend in elementary schools around the country. The event I am referring to is the video circulating of the teenagers from Covington Catholic High School mocking Nathan Phillips, a Native American who is also a Vietnam veteran, who served this great country of ours. There are various videos and opinions concerning the actions of all involved and I am not addressing those actions in this particular post, but I am going to address the lack of teaching social studies in the elementary grades.
As I have attended various conferences and connected with over a hundred elementary educators through social media the same words have been echoed…teach social studies during reading…social studies is not a tested subject, so we only focus on reading and math….our social studies is on paper only…social studies is replaced with more and more intervention time for the hope of higher test scores. I could ramble on with more statements similar to those mentioned, but the message is the same. The message that social studies is not viewed as an important subject matter in lower grades. I do have a difficult time wrapping my mind around why we have arrived at the thought that teaching children about history, economics, geography, and sociology is not important. Now, I do know how we arrived at this conclusion. We have sacrificed social studies in many schools for the hope of raising standardized test scores.
“Social studies is NOT a vehicle to help us arrive at our reading goal” as stated by LaNesha Tabb at the Get Your Teach On conference in Charlotte, NC. This quote has become my motto when faced with opposition in stressing to administrators and fellow educators the importance of teaching social studies. As educators, we give the world an education. If we truly understand the weight of that statement we realize we must do a better job in educating our students in the area of social studies. Social studies should and deserves its own dedicated time where learners as young as kindergarten explore and learn about the world around them. The National Council for the Social Studies states “If the young learners of this nation are to become effective participants in a democratic society, then social studies must be an essential part of the curriculum throughout the elementary years. In a world that demands independent and cooperative problem solving to address complex social, economic, ethical, and personal concerns, core social studies content is as basic for success as reading, writing, and computing. Knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for informed and thoughtful participation in society require a systematically developed elementary program focused on concepts from the four core social studies disciplines: civics, economics, geography and history.”
I close with this thought, the students from Covington Catholic High School sat in a elementary classroom many years ago and I question what type of foundation was laid for these students. Was the foundation steeped in knowledge of other cultures that make up this great land, was it laid with bricks of tolerance, was it whitewashed or built upon truth of history? The foundation is laid in elementary school, so we need to make sure we are laying a solid one to build upon. Until next time….Dandelion Dreams