Why Is Social Studies Education Important

Students of social studies courses are taught the importance of global concerns.

People who teach social studies courses combine information gained from numerous disciplines, with the single aim of teaching students more about the society within which they live. Students are taught to demonstrate skills of analysis as they analyze data, compare/contrast cultural values and familiarize themselves with pressing global issues. Thus, learning social studies requires more than just a mere memorization of facts. Rather, students are challenged to broaden their vision of the world.

Scope

Social studies is an expansive field of study that unites major concepts and interests of various disciplines, including anthropology, economics, geography and jurisprudence. Patterned according to a standard exemplified by the multidisciplinary social studies education program offered by The College of Social Studies of Wesleyan University, social studies programs typically abide by the principle that social sciences “can best be pursued together, rather than in isolation, and that the student will better understand the subject matter and the nature of each discipline by considering it in its relation to the other disciplines.”

Context

A peripheral benefit of learning social studies is an increased awareness of geographical concepts. Maps and globes are tools that can be used to enhance student understanding of spatial relationships. By using these tools, students can become acquainted with locations of places where significant events occurred, as well as to observe how particular geographic features provide “affordances and constraints to human activities.”

Perspective

Ideally, social studies courses empower students to become skilled negotiators in a global economy. By familiarizing students with not only with statistics extracted from social research studies, but also exposing them to ideas and attitudes that are crucial components of divergent cultures, social studies teachers encourage students to develop an increased sense of political acumen.

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Essentially, a comparative study of societies should inform students about people as much as it does about the political systems within which these people function. Jack Zevin, author of “Social Studies for the Twenty-First Century,” emphasizes the importance of helping students gain perspective on the world, commenting that “we live in a shrinking, interdependent world, where understanding rather than stereotyping foreign cultures in not simply useful, but vital.”

Norms

Studying social studies permits students to develop an awareness of a wide variety of social issues, and encourages them to consider different ways of addressing these issues. Students are exposed to topics as diverse as mortality rates, national crime patterns and intercultural social mores, such as arranged marriage in Third World countries.

Concerns

Perpetually evolving social conditions influence the way that schools teach social studies to a new generation of students. Forces such as immigration patterns, fluctuating populations and civil rights reform profoundly affect the way that people view their society. Social studies education nurtures an awareness within students of the relevance of these forces to their own lives.