Philosophical Guidelines for the Social Studies: Enhancing Intelligence with Digital Tools and Artifacts

Philosophical Guidelines for the Social Studies: Enhancing Intelligence with Digital Tools and Artifacts

Daniel W. Stuckart (Lehman College/CUNY, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4797-8.ch004
OnDemand PDF Download:
$37.50

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to place the use of Digital Tools and Artifacts (DTAs) within the context of John Dewey’s philosophy, and along the way, articulate guidelines for integrating technology in the Social Studies. Despite persistent calls for the integration of DTAs, social studies researchers still report low-level cognitive uses and overwhelmingly traditional teaching methods. By constructing a philosophical framework based on Deweyan thought, one can test research and ideas, perhaps leading to the more purposeful and effective use of these tools and artifacts in teaching and learning. Philosophy is an instrument for criticizing and reconstructing human activities, and scholars belatedly credit Dewey as a pioneer in the technology branch.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Despite persistent calls for the integration of digital technologies, Social Studies education researchers still report low-level cognitive uses and overwhelmingly traditional teaching methods (Beck & Eno, 2012; Combs, 2010; Shively & VanFossen, 2009; Shriner, Clark, Nail, Schlee, & Libler, 2010; Whitworth & Berson, 2002). Subsequently, they often point out the barriers to technological integration such as inadequate teacher training, teacher attitudes about technology, teacher demographics, the availability and accessibility of technology, and limited school technology support services (Debele & Pleyvak, 2012; Journell, 2009; Lacina, Mathews, & Nutt, 2010; Lee, Doolittle, & Hicks, 2006; Waring, 2010). Furthermore, the Social Studies and technology research compendium almost exclusively justifies technology integration for two main reasons: First, technology is ubiquitous in the world beyond school walls, and therefore provides an opportunity to engage in authentic instruction, particularly for the younger generations already immersed in its affordances. And second, constructivist learning theory offers a way for understanding how students acquire knowledge using digital tools and artifacts (DTAs) (Doolittle & Hicks, 2003). Over the last several decades, public officials and educators have expended considerable amounts of money, time, and energy to address the barriers to technology integration, yet the results have been uneven at best. Perhaps it is time to view the problem through a philosophical lens.

Philosophy, in its broadest sense, is a systematic and rigorous means to study, criticize, reconsider, and affect a perceived problem. As such, it is never the answer to a problem or an end to something. Instead, philosophy is a tool for casting a wider net, considering expanded ranges of options, and evaluating consequences against a backdrop of a longer time period or in light of overarching phenomena (Dewey, 1929b). Because the Social Studies as a formal body of knowledge (i.e., content) emerged from the philosophy of John Dewey (Egan, 1983; Fallace, 2009; Rossi, 1995; Vinson, 1999), it can also logically serve as a useful means (i.e., method) for addressing the problem of why DTAs have not transformed Social Studies teaching and learning. In fact, one of the most defining—and perhaps least understood—characteristics of Deweyan philosophy is its flexibility in describing content as method in the context of human experience in the natural world. As individuals attempt to make meaning of the world, they are testing experiences and growing through intelligent action. Consequently, within this philosophical paradigm, educators have failed to fully naturalize DTAs in Social Studies experiences to enhance intelligence.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset