Select Page
Spread the love

Is it better to teach History or Social Studies? Is there a difference between the two? Does it matter which one I teach? Discover how the two subjects have merged.

To tell a story you must begin at the beginning and work through it chronologically. If you skip around and share bits and pieces in a random order, it doesn’t make since. This is why we deliberately teach our students how to create beginnings, middles, and ends for the stories they write and to recognize these parts in the stories they read.
When we craft lesson plans, we create beginnings, middles, and ends and we teach our lessons chronologically. Our students read the content provided chronologically. We have learned to start at the beginning and work our way forward. If this is the best way, why do we teach Social Studies and/or History in bits and pieces?
Researching the differences and similarities between History and Social Studies is quite fascinating. If you ever have a few minutes and are interested, I highly recommend doing so. For now, I will just break down my discoveries.

What is History?

History asks the question “Where do we come from?” It is the study of past events, the development of civilizations, contributions made to society, and of people and artifacts. It’s job is to discover, collect, and interpret information in order to develop an international understanding, foster national feelings, and teach moral principles. History is the “proof” of what happened over time (Reference and Reference).

What is Social Studies?

Social Studies asks the question “What is our society about?” It combines the fields of history, economics, political science, psychology, anthropology, geography, social science, sociology, archaeology, communication, linguistics, law, philosophy, and religion into one subject.  It’s job is to promote social competence, equip citizens to make important decisions, and to teach man’s responsibility to the society in which he/she lives  (Reference and Reference).

How History & Social Studies Collide

This is going to be a very short synopsis of what I read about the evolution in education from history to social studies. Think microscopic level of a summary, if you wish to read the full history (or one version of it) please visit SocialStudies.com. I just wanted to give you the basics before we move onto more important discussions.

1860s – History is required to be taught in all schools. Prior to this only math and reading were taught in those old one room school houses.

1937 – A social studies curriculum was created by Columbia University for teaching at colleges in the Northern States. This curriculum was designed as a social control for those freed by the South.

1991 – All Schools now teach Social Studies instead of History. I knew I had History as a child and always wondered when that changed occurred.

2002 – The slow disappearance of Social Studies from Schools begin (Reference this point forward).

2006 – No Child Left Behind Maryland Survey shows 88% of teachers say social studies has low or no priority in the classroom. 63% of principals state it is unimportant compared to math and reading. In schools who are not meeting AYP, the subject is not taught at all.

Today – Social Studies is combined with Language Arts per the Common Core State Standards. Research has shown that when taught in this manner the focus is on reading skills not historical content. Many Historians do not count this as teaching either History or Social Studies.

What are the Requirements?

The requirements for History and/or Social Studies is very limited (Reference).

Elementary Schools – In grades K-3, teachers are encouraged to teach “Holiday History” which is History in reference to national leaders or icons. Think Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Black History Month, and Thanksgiving. In fourth grade, state History is required and in 5th grade National History is required.

Middle Schools – Requires 1 year of American History and 1 year of World History.

High Schools – Requires 1 year of American History, 1/2 year of Government, and 1/2 year of Economics. Many schools are now encouraging 1 year of World History.

Colleges & Universities – 1 course is Social Sciences (Psychology, Sociology, or Politics), 1 Course in US History, and  1 Course in Economics. Some Univeristies also require 1 course in government.

9 Things We Learn from History

It is 2018 and our country is polarized or so says the media. There are a ton of  YouTube videos of people asking basic History questions and the wrong (and hilarious) answers given. I strongly believe that this is because of the breakdown of the teaching of this subject. Let’s take a look at what we can learn by studying History:

Understand Other Cultures

We cannot begin to understand the world in which we live without understand the cultures and people who have shaped it. We must learn to understand, tolerate, and even empathize with cultures different than our own.

Understand Our Culture

Why is the United States the way it is? How did it become a melting pot? In order to understand why we are the way we are now, we must first understand how our society has been shaped since the beginning.

Develop a Sense of Identity

Who am I? is a question we all ask at one point in time or another. We can answer this by discovering our place in time and our place in society. We can learn how we matter and can make a difference.

Builds Citizenship

Each individual is a citizen of the culture in which they live. But what does this mean exactly? How can one be a good citizen? Why is this important?

Provides Insight

You know the old saying “hindsight is 20/20?” Well, history is telling you what is going to happen next but only if you have the encourage to discover the patterns within various societies.

Adapt to Change

History shows that change is normal and to be expected. It is something that is always occurring. Knowing this allows us to better accept change when it happens to us.

Build ELA Skills

Much of History has been integrated into the ELA standards thanks to CCSS. Why? History requires us to read a variety of primary documents and record (write) it for future generations. Exactly the same requirements of ELA with a little more thrown in.

Build Analytical Skills

History requires you to discover facts, read between the lines, ask questions, and interpret evidence. These are all mathematical and scientific tools. These tasks help develop critical thinking skills and reach further to solve the mysteries of the past and predict the future.

Preserve Traditions

Where do your family traditions come from? What are the tales of your ancestors that you have heard? These are all parts of History. We must preserve these stories and pass them on. They are rich in information not just for you but for society as a whole.

What Do You Teach?

Here at Daisies and Chalk and in our classroom we focus on teaching History rather than Social Studies. We believe in starting at the beginning and working through the story of mankind chronologically. All of the materials that we create, we create with the idea of telling a story from beginning to end.

Will this work in your classroom? Absolutely! I am a teacher who has to meet the same requirements and do so in the same limited amount of time that you do. Each of our History products are created with that in mind.