What constitutes social studies? Is teaching social studies important? How and why? Read on to find the answers.
The United States National Council for the Social Studies defines social studies as the integrated study of social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. This field includes various disciplines like sociology, political science, economics, anthropology, history, civics, and geography. The disciplines vary with every country. Since humanities are considered as a part of social studies, some social studies curricula cover the study of art, literature, communication, psychology, philosophy, culture, and religion. Social studies is taught in elementary school right up to 12th grade. Most schools take an interdisciplinary approach in teaching this subject.
Importance of Social Studies
Anthropology is a social science that includes archaeology, ethnography, and anthropological linguistics. It deals with the study of the evolution of human life. It includes the study of humans as a species and tries to answer questions like how we evolved, what were our ancestors like, what makes human beings different from one another, and how evolution has affected society. The study of anthropology lets us look objectively at human behavior and understand the human element of human nature.
Social studies also include economics, political science, and law. Economics intends to study the distribution and consumption of wealth by human population the world over. Every educated individual should have a basic knowledge of the world economy and a general awareness about global issues like recession, inflation, unemployment, taxation, investments, and labor force. A basic know-how of the political systems, public policies, and political theories is essential. It is to render this understanding to our kids, that we must teach them social studies. An introductory knowledge of the legal system of one’s country is a vital constituent of one’s knowledge. Being a citizen of a certain country, one must know about its law and order. This idea further stresses the importance of teaching social studies to school children.
Geography encompasses the study of the planet we live on and the life forms we live among. An overall understanding of world geography helps us know how the geography of a region influences the lifestyle of its inhabitants. The geography of a country affects its social and political conditions. One should possess knowledge about the geographical conditions of one’s country. This includes the knowledge of the country’s location, its climatic conditions, its available resources, and its vulnerability to natural disasters.
As social studies involves humanities, it covers fields such as psychology, communication, and linguistics. Study of psychology renders a better understanding of the human mind, which aids the understanding of human behavior and thinking patterns. Linguistics and principles of communication come under social studies. Effective communication plays a vital role in one’s social life and with that comes the necessity to understand language.
Social studies make the best attempt at answering ‘what makes us humans‘, and this subject includes a breadth of disciplines covering various aspects of living. The inclusion of social studies in education helps students grow up into informed citizens. Knowledge of the sociopolitical and economic conditions of their country and the world, and the knowledge of one’s rights and duties as an individual in society, helps students become responsible citizens. Through social studies, they gain knowledge of human behavior and cultural differences that separate individuals from one another. They develop increased levels of acceptance for differences between people, be they social, economic, or lifestyle-related.
Social studies aim at creating educated individuals who can be responsible citizens of their nation. Teaching children social studies increases the possibility of their becoming more aware, more responsible as human beings. Teaching them social studies increases chances that they will adhere to ethical and moral values in life. The study of social sciences is necessary, if we want a brighter future for our society.