The Importance of Social Studies, History, and Geography in the Curriculum
In social studies, history, and geography, students develop skills, knowledge and understanding, and attitudes that will serve them both inside and outside the classroom, including in their communities and the world of work. The focus of teaching and learning in the social studies, history, and geography curriculum is the development of transferable skills that students need in order to acquire and apply knowledge and understanding. Students apply these skills in a variety of contexts to examine information critically, to assess the significance of events and processes, to develop an understanding of and respect for different points of view, and to reach supportable conclusions and propose solutions to problems.
The responsible, active citizen participates in their community for the common good. Citizenship education provides “ways in which young people are prepared and consequently ready and able to undertake their roles as citizens.”
Julian Fraillon and Wolfram Schulz, “Concept and Design of the International Civic and Citizenship Study” (2008)
Citizenship education is an important facet of students’ overall education. In every grade and course in the social studies, history, and geography curriculum, students are given opportunities to learn about what it means to be a responsible, active citizen in the community of the classroom and the diverse communities to which they belong within and outside the school. It is important for students to understand that they belong to many communities and that, ultimately, they are all citizens of the global community.
This diagram presents a framework for citizenship education. In this figure:
- the outer circle lists the four main elements of citizenship education – active participation, identity, attributes, and structures – and describes each element;
- the second circle outlines ways in which students may develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes associated with responsible citizenship. Teachers should ensure that students have opportunities to develop these attitudes, understandings, and practices as they work to achieve the expectations in social studies, history, and geography (and those in other subjects as well);
- the innermost circle lists various terms and topics that are related to citizenship education. Teachers may focus on these terms/topics when making connections between citizenship education and expectations in the social studies, history, and geography curriculum as well as those in other curriculum documents. In the figure, each term/topic in the innermost circle is connected to a specific element within the framework. However, it is important to note that, in practice, a term can be applied to more than one element – as the dotted lines imply – and that a number of terms may be woven together in a unit that incorporates citizenship education.
The combination of the citizenship education framework and the knowledge and skills in the curriculum expectations brings citizenship education to life, not only in social studies, history, and geography, but in many other subjects as well.