Best Practices in K-12 Social Studies Integration

Best Practices in K-12 Social Studies Integration

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4065-6.ch003
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Abstract

Social studies, the study of historical people, places, and events, geographical physical and cultural landscapes, governmental structures of power and policy, and economic systems of control, could be viewed as the root of all other academic subjects. From the observations and thoughts of ancient people who questioned humans' and Earth's existence came science, technology, reading/writing, engineering, the arts, and math (STREAM). However, students are often unaware of this phenomenon. Therefore, by infusing the concepts of social studies into all subjects, students would be able to recognize the possibilities, importance, and value of social studies, and examine how social studies and all other subjects are interconnected.
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Introduction

What is social studies? Although the subject of social studies houses an abundance of disciplines, what first comes to a secondary student’s mind when hearing the words social studies is often a distinct discipline such as history or geography. However, to an elementary student, social studies is often thought of as a single, yet all-inclusive, course children simply refer to as social studies. Therefore, social studies is not easy to define. Given the importance of social studies and how it plays a role in students’ everyday lives, social studies could be defined as the story of people, a myriad of interconnected and human-related disciplines, and an umbrella of topics that involve places and events (Evans, 2004). Yet more specifically, history is an investigation of ancient civilizations, a synopsis of how flourishing settlements evolved into present-day societies, and a summary of how life progressed. History also provides an opportunity to learn from past happenings, in hopes of never repeating the bad ones (although humans still do). Sociology and psychology evaluate the societal forces that help shape individual and group identities, as well as recognize lifestyles and the attributes of culture, such as language, religion, traditions, and customs, cultural attributes that make us different. Through excavation and discovery, anthropology and archeology examine the old world with a new set of eyes. While geography views maps, locations, and land formations, human geography analyzes how people migrate, interact, communicate, and adapt to, or alter, the environment in which they live. Government classifies major political systems, examines laws and policies, and identifies major leaders whom through the means of either brutality or kindness, have impacted our world. Economics analyzes economic trends and their effects on human behavior. Civics reviews the roles and responsibilities of good citizenship and the importance of voting. However, regardless of viewing social studies as separate disciplines or as a group of disciplines, social studies is a subject that has the potential to historically, economically, socially, and politically enhance the content taught in K-12 courses. By instilling social studies into the subjects of science, technology, reading/writing, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STREAM), a STREAM curriculum, of which unites the subjects typically taught in a K-12 educational setting, has the power to broaden students’ knowledge about the world, teach students 21st century skills, and inspire students to make change in the future world.

Figure 1.

Social studies disciplines

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