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Report of the Committee on Social Studies
Of the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education
of the National Education Association
the social studies require socialization ” quite as 1. Definition of the social studies.—The social much as other studies, and that this is of greater studies are understood to be those whose subject mat moment than the number of social studies offered or ter relates directly to the organization and develop the number of hours assigned to each. ment of human society, and to man as a member of The subject of civics may be taken to illustrate this
point. Its avowed purpose is to train for citizenship. 2. Aims of the social studies.—The social studies
The various attempts to secure a more perfect fulfilldiffer from other studies by reason of their social con
ment of this purpose by increasing the quantity oftent rather than in social aim; for the keynote of fered, by making the subject required instead of elecmodern education is "social efficiency,” and instruc
tive, by transferring it from last year to first year tion in all subjects should contribute to this end. Yet,
of the high school or vice versa, by introducing it in from the nature of their content, the social studies
the elementary course of study, by shifting the afford peculiar opportunities for the training of the emphasis from the National Government to municipal individual as a member of society. Whatever their
government—such attempts have been more or less value from the point of view of personal culture, un
mechanical and superficial. Unless the subject matter less they contribute directly to the cultivati of social
and the methods of instruction are adapted to the efficiency on the part of the pupil they fail in their pupil's immediate needs of social growth, such atmost important function. They should accomplish this
tempts avail little. What is true of civics is also true
of the other social studies, such as history and end through the development of an appreciation of the nature and laws of social life; a sense of the responsi
economics. bility of the individual as a member of social groups,
(2) The committee has refrained from offering deand the intelligence and the will to participate ef- tailed outlines of courses, on the ground that they tend fectively in the promotion of the social well-being. to fix instruction in stereotyped forms inconsistent
More specifically, the social studies of the American with a real socializing purpose. The selection of topics high school should have for their conscious and con
and the organization of subject matter should be destant purpose the cultivation of good citizenship. We
termined in each case by immediate needs. The atmay identify the “good citizen” of a neighborhood tempt has been, therefore, to establish certain prinwith the “ thoroughly efficient member” of that neigh- ciples, to illustrate these as far as possible by borhood; but he will be characterized, among other examples from actual practice, and to stimulate initiathings, by a loyalty and a sense of obligation to his
tive on the part of teachers and school administrators City, State, and Nation as political units. Again, in testing proposed method or in judicious experiments
of their own. society” may be interpreted to include the human race. Humanity is bigger than any of its divisions.
No sensible teacher of history asks how many facts he is The social studies should cultivate a sense of mem
to teach. No two teachers-if good ones—would teach the
same number of facts or just the same facts to the same bership in the "world community," with all the
pupils or class, and much less to different classes. No sensympathies and sense of justice that this involves as
sible teacher asks what kind of facts he shall teach, examong the different divisions of human society. The pecting to receive in answer a tabulation of his material. . first step, however, toward a true “neighborliness He knows that general rules accompanied by suitable illusamong nations must be a realization of national ideals, trations are the only useful answer to these questions. national efficiency, national loyalty, national self-re ( Elementary course of study in geography, history, and spect, just as real neighborliness among different
civics, Indianapolis.) family groups depends upon the solidarity, the self (3) One principle the committee has endeavored respect, and the loyalty to be found within each of to keep before it consistently throughout this report the component families.
because of its fundamental character. It is contained High national ideals and an intelligent and genuine in the following quotation from Prof. Dewey: loyalty to them should thus be a specific aim of the We are continually uneasy about the things we adults social studies in American high schools.
know, and are afraid the child will never learn them unless 3. The point of view of the committee.-(1) The
they are drilled into him by instruction before he has any cemmittee adheres to the view that it was appointed, attending to the needs of present growth would keep the
intellectual use for them. If we could really believe that not to “obtain justice” for a group of social studies
child and teacher alike busy, and would also provide the as against other groups, or for one social study as
best possible guarantee of the learning needed in the fuagainst others, but to consider wherein such studies ture, transformation of educational ideals might soon be might be made to contribute most effectively to the accomplished, and other desirable changes would largely purposes of secondary education. It believes that take care of themselves.
The high-school course has heretofore been deter- VII-IX constitutes a cycle to be followed by a similar mined too largely by supposed future needs and too cycle in the years X-XII, and presumably preceded little by present needs and past experience. The im- by another similar cycle in the six elementary grades. portant fact is not that the pupil is getting ready This grouping coincides roughly with the physioto live, but that he is living, and in immediate need logical periods of adolescence, but is based chiefly of such mental and social nourishment and training upon the practical consideration that large numbers as will enable him to adjust himself to his present of children complete their schooling with the sixth social environment and conditions. By the very pro- grade and another large contingent with the eighth cesses of present growth he will make the best pos
and ninth grades. The course recommended in this sible provision for the future. This does not mean
report aims to provide a comprehensive, and in a that educational processes should have no reference to sense complete, course of social study for each period. the future. It does not mean, to use a concrete illus
Those pupils who continue through the third period tration, that a boy should be taught nothing about
cover the same cycle provided for in the first and voting until he is 21 and about to cast his first ballot.
second periods, but with broader horizon, new relaIt means merely that such instruction should be given tions, and more intensive study. at the psychological and social moment when the boy's
The Philadelphia course of study now in preparainterests are such as to make the instruction function
tion and soon to be published, and the Indianapolis effectively in his processes of growth. A distinction course of study described in Bulletin, 1915, No. 17, should be made between the needs of present
United States Bureau of Education, illustrate with growth” and immediate, objective utility. As a boy's variations the cycle organization of the six elemenmental and social horizon broadens with the processes
tary grades. Within this period the pupils get at of education, he will become inquisitive about facts least some picture of the development of civilization and relations perhaps long before he has direct use as typified in the customs, historic personages and for them in the affairs of life. The best question dramatic events of ancient and modern nations. They that can be asked in class is the question that the also acquire the simpler elements of American history pupil himself asks because he wants to know, and not from the period of exploration to the present time. the question the teacher asks because he thinks the
This historical study is made in close relation with pupil some time in the future ought to know.
geographical study. Civic and social relations, begin(4) For effective social training in the high school ning with the simple relations of home life in the first more consideration must be given to its organic con
grade and gradually including the elemental relations tinuity with the work of the elementary school in the
of the larger community life, form a continuous phase same field. Opinion differs as to the grades when
of the work. In the sixth year of the Philadelphia the social studies as such should be introduced, especially in the case of civics. This question is be
course emphasis is placed upon economic or vocational yond the scope of this committee's consideration, ex
relations, largely through a concrete study of occupacept in its relation to the seventh and eighth years.
tions. In the Indianapolis course a similar though These years are now in some places included with the perhaps less intensive study of occupations is made, ninth year in the junior high school, and must, there- chiefly in connection with geography (general and fore, be considered in any plan for the reorganiza- local) and with especial emphasis in the fourth, fifth, tion of secondary education, But even where the
and sixth years; while in the sixth year a somewhat junior high-school plan is not adopted, the founda
systematic though elementary study is made of the tions of secondary education must be laid in the years
more important "elements of community welfare." preceding the present high school.
With such a coarse of study, the pupil who leaves 4. General outline of social studies for secondary school after completing the sixth grade will have acschools.---Assuming that provision has been made for quired some experience with practically the whole the social aspect of education in Grades I-VI of the
range of social studies--history (both ancient and elementary school, the following general plan of social modern, European and American); government in its studies is proposed for the years VII-XII:
relations to community welfare ; economics in its simJunior cycle (years VII-IX):
pler occupational relations, and also on the side of Geography. European history.
saving, thrift, conservation; and even sociology in American history.
very elementary and concrete terms. Elementary as Civics.
the course is, and inadequate as it may be from the Senior cycle (years X-XII):
point of view of the pupil's future social efficiency, European history.
it is doubtless all that he can well assimilate at his American history. Problems of democracy-social, economic, and politi- stage of mental and social growth. cal.
It will now require only a glance at the outline of 5. The "cycle” plan of organization—two three courses suggested for the years VII-IX and X-XII year cycles preceded by an earlier six-year cycle. on pages 5, 6 and 15, of this report to make apFrom the foregoing general outline it will be seen that parent without further discussion the completeness the course of social studies proposed for the years with which the cycle organization is provided for.
6. Differentiation of courses.—The course of study PART II.-SOCIAL STUDIES FOR THE SEVENTH, outlined is flexible and permits of differentiation to
EIGHTH AND NINTH YEARS. any extent necessary to meet the needs of characteristic groups of pupils. It is an open question how far
(A) ADMINISTRATIVE FEATURES. such differentiation is desirable, especially in the years Geography, history, and civics are the social studies VII-IX. It is a fallacy, for example, to imagine that that find a proper place in the seventh, eighth, and the children of native-born Americans need civic edu
ninth years. The geography should be closely corcation any less than the children of immigrants; or related with the history and civics, and should be that the pupils of a school in a purely residential thoroughly socialized. The history should include suburb require instruction in industrial history or European as well as American history. The civics vocational civics any less than the pupils of a school should be of the “community civics type (see pp. in an industrial district. But the scope and emphasis 9-14, following). In addition, it is desirable to emof such courses may well vary in the different cases. phasize the social aspects of other studies, such as It is conceivable that in a class of immigrant children hygiene or other science, and even arithmetic. (For more emphasis might be given to American history a description of “community arithmetic" see "Civic and less to European history than in a class of native Education in Elementary Schools as Illustrated in children. In both European and American history Indianapolis,” Bulletin, 1915, No. 17, United States the selection of topics for emphasis should, within cer Bureau of Education, pp. 23-26.) tain limits at least, be made to meet industrial or other 1. Alternative programs for years VII-IX.specific needs. As suggested on pages 13-14, com Opinion and practice vary as to the organization of munity civics needs special adaptation to rural condi the social studies in these three years. It is the betions and requirements.
lief of the committee that the organization should be The committee can not emphasize too strongly its adapted to local circumstances, and that no one plan belief in the desirability of such careful adjustment should be recommended as best for every case. The of courses to local and current circumstances. It is following alternative plans are suggested; it is not believed that the flexibility of the course of social intended, however, to preclude the possibility of other studies offered and the principles suggested for the adjustments that local conditions may require. organization of subject matter (see especially under the section on History, pp. 16-17), lends themselves
These two courses readily to such adjustment.
(1) Geography---1/2 year.
may be taught in 7. Adaptation to the 8-4 and 6-3-3 plans of or
European history-1/2 year.
sequence, or parganization.—The validity of the committee's recom
allel through the mendations and suggestions is not dependent upon
U year. adoption of the junior and senior high-school organ
Civics-taught as a phase of the above and of ization. There is only one point at which the adop
other subjects, or segregated in or two
periods a week, or both. tion or non-adoption of this organization would seem
Or, (2) European history--1 year. to make any difference in the completeness with which
Geography-taught incidentally to, and as a factor the course of social studies herein proposed for the
in, the history. years VII-IX could be carried out. If it is true that
Civics-taught as a phase of the above, and of under the 8-4 organization more pupils are likely to
other subjects, or segregated in one or two leave school at the end of the eighth year than would
periods a week, or both. be the case under the 6-3-3 organization, it would
Eighth year: mean simply that a larger percentage of pupils would
These two courses may fail to complete the cycle of social studies provided American history-1/2 year.
be taught in sequence, for the years VII-IX.
or parallel through the The committee believes, however, that the very
year. nature of its proposed course in civics in the ninth Geography--taught incidentally to, and as a factor in, year will tend to keep in school, even under the 8-4
the above subjects. organization, many of those to whom the traditional
Ninth year: history courses usually given in the ninth year would
(1) Civics: Continuing the civics of the preceding year, offer no inducement to remain. However, it is partly
but with more emphasis upon State, national, to meet the needs of those who, under either organ
and world aspects (see pp. 11-12)—1/2 year. ization, leave school at the end of the eighth year
Civics: Economic and vocational aspects (see pp. that the committee urgently recommends the inclusion
12-14)—12 year. of an elementary course in community civics in that
History: Much use made of history in relation to year. This course, if planned with that end in view,
the topics of the above courses. will consummate a complete, though necessarily ab
Or, (2) Civics-economic and vocational. breviated, cycle in the years VII-VIII. Let it be re
1 year, in peated, however, that one of the chief purposes of
quence or both eighth and ninth year civics should be to provide
parallel the pupil with a motive for the continuation of his 2. Organization of social studies in the seventh and education.
eighth years.—The alternative programs given above
suggest three methods of organizing the social studies The chief advantage claimed for this plan is the in the seventh and eighth years.
concentration and continuity of interest and attention. (a) By the first method, the three social studies run It is perhaps particularly important that attention be parallel to each other, with more or less direct de concentrated upon civics at the time just before the pendence upon each other, and with a good deal of pupils enter high school or leave school altogether. one subject taught as an aspect of the other two. This This last argument may doubtless lose some of its method is exemplified in the Indianapolis schools, ac force under the Junior High School plan of organizacording to their course of study in geography, his- tion, if it be assumed that the latter would keep pupils tory, and civics published in 1914, and explained in in school at least a year longer and would provide Bulletin, 1915, No. 17, United States Bureau of further civic training in that year. At all events, of Education. In the seventh year geography occupies the two plans described, the second is perhaps more three periods a week throughout the year, alternating likely to be effective in the hands of the great mawith European history on the other two days. Civics jority of teachers, and especially of those who are is taught only as a phase of the geography, history, inexperienced. and other subjects, with more or less attention to it (c) A third general plan of organization, which adin the opening exercises. In the eighth year United mits of variations, is characterized by the introduction States history occupies three periods a week, alternat- of civics as a distinct subject in the lower grades for ing with civics on the other two days. Geography is one or more periods a week, and its continuation in taught in this year only as a factor in the other two increasing amount until the climax is reached in the subjects. It should be said in passing that while seventh and eighth years. A plan of this kind is now civics does not appear as a distinct subject in the being developed in Philadelphia. The advantages Indianapolis schools until the eighth year, it is
claimed for it are the cumulative effect of continuous systematically taught as an aspect of other subjects civics instruction through the pupil's early years, and throughout the elementary grades beginning with the
the definiteness secured by fixing attention upon the first.
subject as such, even if for only one or two periods The aim in the Indianapolis elementary schools seems to
a week, instead of depending upon the interest and be to make of education, not a process of instruction in a
skill of the teacher to develop the subject incidentally variety of subjects, but a process of living, of growth, dur to the teaching of other subjects. ing which the various relations of life are unfolded-civic, Objections that have been raised to this plan are geographical, historical, ethical, vocational, etc. In the first (1) the multiplication of “subjects" in the elemengrade, for example, the pupil does not even study “Eng tary curriculum; (2) the difficulty of maintaining inlish ” or “language" he merely does things, and talks about things, and hears and tells stories about things, the teacher
terest and securing effective results from subjects alone being conscious that she is giving the child his first
taught one or two periods a week; (3) the belief that organized lessons in civic life, as well as in the use of the
the very fact of designating a few periods a week English language. (Civic Education in Elementary Schools for the study of “civics ” would tend to the neglect as Illustrated in Indianapolis, Bulletin, 1915, No. 17 United of the civic aspects of instruction in other subjects. States Bureau of Education, p. 9.)
Data are not available to prove the validity of these Even in the eighth year, where civics appears as
objections. a separate “subject," alternating throughout the year 3. Time allotment for civics in years VII-IX.with American history, the co-ordination is so close An objection has been raised to the amount of civics (in the hands of a skilful teacher) that the pupils recommended for the
VII-IX on the ground are hardly conscious that they are studying two sub that it is out of proportion to the time available for jects.” They are rather studying certain phenomena the social studies. This objection appears to be due of life in two aspects—historical and civic.
in part to a misconception of the meaning of the term, It is this aim that gives to the Indianapolis plan and of the scope of the work intended to be included its chief distinction. It is perhaps an ideal aim. Its
under it. The term community civics ” has arisen accomplishment, however, requires skilful teaching. (it was not invented by this committee) to distinguish It is only fair to say that even in Indianapolis there the new type of civics from the traditional civil are principals and teachers who prefer the plan which government,” to which the name civics was also apexisted in that city prior to the adoption of the pres plied. Unfortunately, the term has been interpreted ent plan a year or two ago, and who, indeed, still fol- by many as applying to a purely local study. From low it. This plan is next described.
what is said on pages 10 and 11, it should be clear (b) By this second plan the social studies are taken
that the committee is not recommending a course, even up in sequence. Civics occupies the entire attention in the eighth year, that is restricted to a study of (so far as the social studies are concerned) five days
“the pupil's own town;" and much less that it is in the week, in the last half of the eighth year. It is
recommending two consecutive years of such study.
The proposed ninth year course (see pp. 11-14) is preceded by the courses in history, and these in turn
in that it is a specific course of training for by geography. Of course geography also appears as an citizenship; it is "community civics" solely in the element in the history work, European and American.
sense of maintaining the point of view, the spirit, the More or less civics instruction may be given prior to general method, though not the same content in dethe last half of the eighth grade as a phase of history, tail, which characterize the earlier course to which geography, and other subjects.
the name has been applied.
Although the committee recommends a course in
3. Introduction of slaves and consequent precivics in both eighth and ninth years, it does not neces
dominance of negro labor. sarily follow that there must be or should be two full
B. Location and climate retarded development. years of the subject. The committee has only sug
1. Largely in Southern Hemisphere.
2. Chiefly in orrid one. gested a half-year course in the eighth year (a daily period for one-half year, or two or three periods a
C. Topography retarded development.
1. Forests. week for the entire year). And while it has suggested
2. Mountains parallel to southeastern coast. a course for the ninth year that, in the committee's
3. Great plateau beyond wall of woods and rock. opinion, might well occupy the entire year under cer
4. Coastal plain very narrow. tain circumstances, this course is capable of adjust D. Drainage helped to retard development. ment to half-year requirements when conditions make
II. What factors are contributing to its great growth toit desirable. (See p. 6).
A. Its location. (B) GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY IN THE SEVENTH
1. In South America. AND EIGHTH YEARS.
a. All but two countries of South America
border on Brazil. There are here given, with some comment, extracts
b. Great extent of coast line. from the course of study in geography and history in
2. Nearer to Europe and North America than the the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades of the Indiana
other two progressive countries of South polis schools, as published in 1914. These illustrate,
America. as well as anything available to the committee, the B. Topography and climate. socialization of geography and the co-ordination be
1. Modification of climate by mountains and tween geography, history, and civics. It has seemed
2. Mountains accessible to short railroads conwell to include the sixth year in order to show the continuity of method from the elementary to the
necting inland towns with coast.
3. Southern part temperate and healthful. secondary period and because of its relation to the
C. Character of later settlers. cycle organization.
1. Over 200,000 Germans in Rio do Sul. Sixth-grade geography.—The geography of this
2. Even greater number of Italians; work on and year includes a study of Africa and South America
own coffee plantations. in the first half and of the United States in the second
3. Portuguese, Spaniards, Syrians, etc. half.
D. Great natural wealth. By the time children reach the sixth grade they are suffi
1. Forest resources. ciently mature to approach the study of a continent or
2. Mines. country with some problem in mind. Facts are needed in
3. Agricultural resources. the solution of this problem; they should not, however, be
4. Grazing lands. given as isolated scraps of knowledge, but should be made E. Increased transportation facilities. to contribute to the working out of the problem.
1. Development of navigation on the Amazon. The most vital problems, however, grow out of current
2. Navigation of Paraguay River. events that stimulate questions in the minds of the chil
3. Few railroads. but increasing in number. dren. Therefore problems may change from year to year.
4. Steamship lines to Europe and North America.
Principal harbors and exports. The following may be taken as typical of the problems studied in this year:
Sixth-grade history.—The prominence of the his1. Considering the proximity of Africa to Europe, why
torical factor in the geography of this year will be have there been so few settlements and explorations until suggested by the typical outline given above. In addirecently?
tion to this "incidental " historical study, the period 2. Egypt was once the leading power of the world, to-day of discovery and colonization is studied in story form a country of little influence and under the domination of parallel with the geography of the first half year, England. Why?
and that from the Revolution on in the second half 3. No part of the world is attracting more attention than South America. What are the reasons ?
year parallel with the geography of the United States.
The stories of Livingstone, Cecil Rhodes, Stanley and 4. Brazil, a country nearly as large as the United States and known to European countries for over 400 years, has a
Kitchener are taken up along with the geography of population only one-fourth as large as that of the United Africa. A very elementary textbook in history is used States and is just beginning to take a prominent part in
for the first time in this grade. international affairs. Reasons ?
It should be remarked that this sixth-year history 5. What are the factors which have been largely influen work is the culmination of the elementary six-year tial in developing the United States into a great industrial cycle, which began with a study of the meaning of nation?
national holidays and of Hiawatha's childhood in the To illustrate the method by which such problems first two grades, was continued in the third and fourth are developed, the following suggestive outline for grades with pioneer stories and biography from the fourth problem enumerated above is given: American history, and in the fifth grade with the eleI. Why was the development of Brazil so retarded ? ments of European and Oriental history, based on A. Character and policy of early settlers.
“ Ten Boys.” In the fifth grade, also, the modern 1. Portuguese influence.
awakening of Japan is studied, with the story of 2. Policy toward Indians.
Perry and Japan” as a basis.