Recently we have seen a number of studies highlighting the plight of Social Studies in the classroom.
With educational policy pushing for greater focus on the STEM subjects, the Social Studies subjects including Geography and History are being pushed further down the pecking order. According to a recent Education Market Research report it is estimated that enrollment in Social Studies at Middle and High School level is equal or higher to Math. But nationwide, the status of Social Studies is tumbling in part because teachers are devoting the lion’s share of classroom time to subjects which are tested. This is especially true at elementary level where the pressure on teaching to achieve standardized test scores can lead to the omission of subjects which offer students insights and context for other subjects.
Language Arts is one subject frequently ranked higher than Social Studies, and in one NCSS survey it was found that some states were devoting as little as 12 minutes per week on average to the subject.
Social Studies, and especially Geography, give context and a sense of place to other topics. From economics to chemistry, algebra to earth science, knowing the history, the location, and the reason behind factors such as raw materials, logistics, energy and international relations, or being able to apply math and science principles such as distance, curvature, population, volume, temperature to real world situations – makes STEM subjects relevant to students, promoting interest and understanding.
A recently revised National Curriculum by the NCSS emphasizes this and also the contribution that Social Studies makes to reading and literacy.
This article by John Spencer outlines a whole list of reasons why Social Studies should be saved and saved now.
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