I am one of those people who has a ton of ideas. The ideas come out of thin air and at the most random times. Talking to my husband about politics – an idea is born. Walking through the grocery, trying really hard to remember what my family needs, another idea forms. But as a stay-at-home-mom these ideas don’t go anywhere. They get filed in my mind under, “maybe if I ever go back to work.”
But after five years of being at home, my mind is too full and jumbled. I need the creative release that creating curriculum and writing about education gives me.
Let me introduce myself.
It wasn’t until after half way through my senior year of high school that I thought about going to college. It just wasn’t something I wanted to do, at least not right after high school. But my mom wanted me to go. Eventually, I got excited about choosing a school and a major and I went. Thank god. Now I dream of going back to school to be a professional student because there is nothing I love more than going to class.
As a graduate student and later a teacher I truly became interested in education as a field. I am always interested in reading articles about turn around schools, failing schools, great teachers, lousy teachers, interesting students, irritating students, and the plethora of research and curriculum, and instructional approaches. It is from my experiences and my further reading that I have come to a few conclusions.
I believe in free education for all. An educated society is better and safer and freer. Everyone deserves to be educated regardless of gender, race, and age.
I believe in a liberal education. Students should be exposed to diverse subjects and opinions. Everyone should at some point study literature, math, science, history, art, and music and not be confined to a narrow selection of classes. No one should be told what their future will hold. This means they should be exposed to the world.
I believe in a liberal education. Climate change is a fact. Evolution is a fact. Sex education should be mandatory for all students. Religion should be taught but as an academic subject, not an ideology.
I believe teachers are the most important element in a classroom. The term student-centered or student-focused has hijacked education. I want to focus on the teachers. Teachers cannot be well prepared for all of the challenges in our classrooms if they are not well educated and appropriately funded. A teacher-focused approach is what I advocate for. If the teachers are good, the students will do better.
Social studies is the second most important subject students will study (first is reading). We learn not only about our history but how our economy and government works. We learn about why people are the way they are. We learn about how changes over time have led to this current environment and it also teaches us to navigate it, especially if we disagree with what is going on. I truly believe if we want more engineers and scientists and mathematicians we have to focus on social studies. It is the life science. Why should students care about building incredible bridges when they don’t know why it is important?
Finally, I believe in an integrated approach. The first step is to integrate the social studies. It is not enough to teach students world history but that course should have an emphasis on teaching government, economics, and geography. Learning what a monarchy is doesn’t help without teaching the history of it and the pros and cons throughout time and cultures. The second approach is to integrate, at least, the sciences.
Most would agree that literature and history are the perfect pairing but I would argue it is actually science and history. Without history, learning about vaccines isn’t as effective. Polio isn’t scary unless history is taught. Circumnavigation isn’t amazing unless students know about the common belief that the world was flat.
All of these topics and more will be addressed in future posts. All of these topics and more will be turned into curriculum, little by little, through my teacher store at www.teacherspayteachers.com/store/integrated-social-studies.
I hope you will join me.