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Michael Knox Beran
Abolish Social Studies « Back to Story

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Dan Krutka, Ph.D. October 21, 2013 at 1:15 PM
When an author picks and chooses their facts based on pre-determined dogma, as Beran seems to have done here, it can tell a fine tale, but it's an intellectually lazy way of addressing a topic. Interpretations of the meaning, purpose, and curricula of the social studies as a field are complex and varied, not simplistic and uniform. I would recommend searching out other sources if one is interested in really understanding the field.
Abolish Social Studies and reintroduce pure History, Geography, and Economic Systems as part of the curriculum starting in Grade 7 at the latest.
Viliami, obviously you've never been in a Social Studies classroom before...and if you have, you probably were not paying attention.

Social studies nurtures minds more than any other subject. It encourages free thought and analysis - critical thinking within a positive framework. It is a blissful arena where free speech, thought, and imagination are encouraged...with math, LA, sciences, you're put into a rigid chronology where the answer is king - nothing wrong with this approach for the subjects, but in Social Studies, the answer is not the objective, its the approach and the analysis; developing the mind to think for oneself and make rationale judgements - to which this article has absolutely none.
joeshmoe@gmail.com April 13, 2013 at 9:39 AM
whoever wrote this, YOU SUCK
Ken Uhde from Birmingham Public Schools, if your going to write a long piece of writing like that again make sure that you've got more than one point in your argument. Social Studies has never EVER taught us how to solve a water crisis in Africa.
I'm going to come right out and say it, I am a social studies educator. As I can imagine you probably have gotten many replies by my colleagues defending the merits of our field. However, I won't be drawing on cliches like 'those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.' The Tea Party makes that obvious.

I will begin by pointing out that almost every assertion that you make in your article is either based on theories predating the Great Depression Era or are simply wrong.

Starting with your title. You assert that social studies is a psedo-science. Absolutely it is. Just like any field dealing with human beings and their behavior. In that same vein that medicine, archaeology, economics and psychology are also pseudo sciences.

Secondly, I challenge you to find a current teacher trained in the last 20 years who views social studies as a way of acclimating students into their cultures. Perhaps, among the 1st-3rd grade set perhaps. However, any social studies teacher worth their salt works to teach their students logic, cause-effect, linear thinking, critical thinking, and cultural sensitivity.

I challenge you to argue that students working to solve problems on the environment, solving a water crisis in Africa, or learning how to divert a diplomatic crisis as existed in 1935 Germany is irrelevant.

Social Studies is not only relevant but one of the most essential subjects in teaching students how to go out and function among people over various backgrounds, beliefs, and ideologies. I would argue that abandoning social studies sets our society up for more conflicts that result in the ignorance we have for people with diverse opinions.

Regards

Ken Uhde
Birmingham Public Schools
What Beran is describing is primary school "social studies" 50 or 60 or 70 years ago -- basically reading with an emphasis on getting to know how other people live. It's what children were taught before they were ready for more serious history or geography.

The stereotype -- I think you can find it in Nabokov's "Lolita" or Randall Jarrell's "Pictures from and Institution" and other satires of the day is that this sort of thing persisted up through high school and college. Maybe it did at some progressive or experimental schools, but today everyone says that education was much more rigorous in those days, so my own understanding is that the stereotype was wildly overdrawn, and that "social studies" in the primary grades didn't get in the way of actually learning history or geography later on -- and learning such subjects better than students do today.

Those days are gone. I'm not entirely sure what replaced the social studies of those days, but it doesn't seem to have done me much harm to have learned about Tom and Susan (or whoever their equivalents were in my own textbooks).

I'd suggest paying attention to how children develop over the whole course of their schooling. A little civilizing emphasis in the early days on being part of a community with rules and obligations can be offset in later years as young people learn how to be free, self-reliant individuals. Ayn Rand for babies probably wouldn't be a good idea.



The lack of individualism in American culture these days is indeed a tragedy. Just look at the recent tribulations on Wall Street--all caused by socialist hedge fund managers wearing Che Guevara berets trying to redistribute the wealth of the nation. If only they had read some Wordsworth!
This entire article is built around attacking a straw man. Standardized testing has already pretty much destroyed social studies (the study of history, geography, etc) at the primary level. The author of this article clearly has no idea what schools actuall teach.
I seem to recall having Social Studies classes in the sixties. I was brainwashed it seems, although to be clear, I don't remember a single class or lesson. In fact, the term "Social Studies" I instinctively equate with "boring." That fits with a subconscious take-home lesson. Maybe the real problem here is in ascribing weight to something that is feather-light.
Such drivel. The author is disturbed that social studies deals with how people behave and fit in groups? That's what makes the studies 'social'. He does have a point about the textbooks. They are about as dry as this article.
Wow! Picking fights with texts from the early 30's? Now that takes some stones.
This tendicious little rant is filled with false dichotomies and mindless fears. God forbid children are raised with both a sense of community and empathy AND a sense of individualism and self reliance. It's nice to see the flailings of pseudo-intellectual right wing paranoia so keenly focused.
Pathetic
This socio-political screed makes only one point worth noting: social studies textbooks, and most textbooks, are stupid, poorly written, and hardly worth reading. This is a critique, however, of the textbook industry, and not the fault of curriculum developers. Social Studies as a "subject" in school is an amalgam of what was formerly civics, geography, and history. But there is nothing inherently wrong in suggesting to children that a town or a society contains many types of people, all of whom have some value, is a welcome message - replacing the all-male, all-white versions that used to be promulgated. That's not a bad thing, nor is it some subversive, socialistic plot. That those disciplines are no longer attended to in a focused way is a shame, but it is more so in the last few years as a result of the inane testing mentality that has hijacked the edubiz. Many schools are narrowing their curriculums by diminishing or eliminating completely these crucial studies. Take your shots at the textbooks, but learn something about schools before you embark on such a wild hair of a criticism.
"For educators devoted to the social studies model, the old learning is anathema precisely because it liberates individual potential."

I would guess that at least 50% of today's educators couldn't tell you what "anathema" means and fewer than 3% could tell you why it means that based on its Greek roots. And guess what - the dumber ones end up in social studies.
I thought I was reading The Onion for a second.

Seriously?
Ramesh Raghuvanshi January 31, 2013 at 8:09 PM
Child first learned social norms in family.Man is inborn social animal.if he was rare in family he become beast.In school social studies most essential other wise how can make him responsible citizen.?His individuality developed from social studies.Can writer of this essay give alternative to social studies to develop his in individuality?
idiot
Nash et al's History Wars on the national history standards fight in the Clinton administration covers all of this ground in a much less polemic fashion.
Regarding the comments of P.N.Ranganathan, Ph.D., please note that "slenderest" is a perfectly good word (as in "...by the slenderest of margins").

At the same time, you might look at the use of less where fewer is the correct word.

Other than the points above, I tend to agree that it would be more useful to emphasize those subjects which will increase wealth (output) rather than the liberal arts. Having said that, both can be taught without one excluding the other.
"The old learning used the resources of culture to develop the child’s individual potential; social studies, by contrast, seeks to adjust him to the mediocrity of the social pack."

Of course, the contrast attempted above is made possible only by daydreaming about a non-existent golden age. The old learning and the new were both about the mediocrity of the pack. The difference was in the cultural ideals informing each mediocrity. In the good old days, children were taught about wonderful things like the white man's burden. They were fed feeble fairy tales in place of reality and the ideal projected to them was that of narrow-mindedness and imaginary hierarchies of collectives (nation, culture, race...): the collective they were being prepared for was that of the pack. Some kids, of course, got a better education, and that is the point of social darwinist education, and therefore also the real point of this article. When education is neglected in favor of indoctrination, ambitious families will work harder. Some will do so because they understand the peril of falling into the class of neglected and ignorant citizens. Others will do so because they sense the opportunity (these are the people that neo-conservatives are always only talking to) of a system that rewards merit and predation indiscriminately and without recognizing any real difference between the two (a large part of any culture is devoted to rationalizing the hierarchy). Well placed families are directly effected, but they will support the system that promotes their interest: socio-economic stagnation. The current curriculum (the curriculum of a herd -- Mr. Beran's choice of the word "pack" was ill-informed) also leads us around in this direction. The herd won't abide any discomfort to its members. But now the progressives are abandoning the public schools just as the christians are doing. The christians are leaving because the curriculum isn't narrow enough for them -- their real prospects have been decimated by the political charlatans they support and all they want now is to be comforted and to not be called "stupid" (yes, that is an allusion to A Fish Called Wanda :)). The progressives are leaving because the culture of the schools has become unbearable -- their own political-correctness emasculated school teachers and administration, thus leaving the gates open to allow the putridity of mass commercial culture to march into the schools. There is no doubt that progressive policies have had some role in the decadence we see today among non-progressives.

So the situation is pretty bad. But don't think that returning to the good old days will work. The good old days were not good. But don't take my word for it, and certainly don't take Mr. Beran's. Pick up a few textbooks from the good old days. Even if you are a conservative, you will be appalled. Dare I suggest the reason?
The Social Studies apparently didn't work. They produced the world of Alan Greenspan and Ronald Reagan. Think of the number who idealize Ayn Rand.
Dear Sir/Madam,

"But language instruction in the elementary schools has itself been brought into the business of socializing children and has ceased to use the treasure-house of culture to stimulate their minds."

I agree, and this is the entire trouble with public education in this country, besides lack of funding.
How unfortunate then that City Journal supports the destruction of public education through charters, "choice" and privatization by what Diane Ravitch calls the Billionaire Boys Club.

Sincerely,
George Balanchine

P.S. Last time I checked, "famish" was not a verb.
A mish-mash of sub-evangelical religion and mis-readings of Marx soaked in a re-actionary flavoured Booster sauce.
Articles like this, coming from a conservative organ such as the City Journal, always confuse me somewhat. Judging from a brief scan of the articles on the front page of this site, I would expect the author to wish for a regime of study that would inculcate respect for authority, a sense of collective national identity, an acceptance of tradition, and a healthy spirit of subservience to one's betters- conservatism, more or less, at least in usual (though not only) forms. Yet the author rails against forms of education that he claims destroy individuality and breed a spirit of collective identity, suppressing creative urges that would not coincide with those of the group (in this primarily the nation-state). Why does this bother our good conservative author, and presumably his colleagues at this esteemed journal? Wouldn't properly socialized, properly patriotic citizens make better components in the national project than a bunch of free-thinking, self-sufficient kids who would rather write poetry or produce art than go die for the glorious nation-state or turn out cogs for the factory owners?

After all, the progressives were hardly radicals (I mean, one of them wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, for crying out loud), despite attempts such as this to paint them as such. They were at heart conservatives, eager to maintain the status quo, but with reforms- reforms meant to make it work better. Central planning, for instance, was, in both the US and the Soviet Union, an attempt to make industrial capitalism work better, not to replace it. The desire to 'standardize' is a deeply capitalist one, and a very rational one from the perspective of the bosses, in both the state and the properly capitalist sectors. From the standpoint of contemporary conservatism, the strength of the liberal nation-state, on the one hand, and the vigor of the capitalist economy, on the other, are key; these depend upon both literal, mechanical standardization, and an interior sort of standardization. Conservatives tend to emphasize conformity with Western culture, an appreciation of and support of the war-making capacities of the nation-state, and veneration of the nation-state's past. In the US ethnic identity is now rather declasse, except on the conservative fringes; veneration and conformity to the Western tradition has replaced out and out ethnic identity (and such a tradition was always somewhat incongruent with American ideology). Individualism is only appreciated in very limited circles, and primarily as a virtue of the successful capitalist (uppity line workers, on the other hand...). It is a residue of classical liberalism, but one that is only useful in limited quantities, and is viewed in a perspective that reeks of bad faith.

All of this is to say, I do not really understand the author's fury, or rather, his fury, I think, is misplaced (perhaps deliberately or at least subliminally so). His ultimate anger, I suspect, comes not from the lack of a curriculum that instills individualism and creativity and the like, but rather that his political tribe, as it were, is not the one any longer controlling the instillation of collective virtues and identity. Social studies, in his view, is turning out Peace Corps recruits, not Marine Corps recruits. Conservatives no more desire individualism than progressives; they simply desire a slightly different sort of conformity, a slightly different sort of collectivity, based more on deference to betters than on a spirit of cooperation.
This is the education that lead to the belief that O'bama directive of the government "whole society" taking all of the money and taking care of you by distributing it for you would be the best for all
As a high school history teacher belonging to a "Social Studies" department--which consists of teachers of economics, politics and government, US/World/Asian histories, art history, regional studies, and such--your use of the term "social studies" is jarring. I read you as attacking "social" or "character" education, not academic social studies disciplines. Is this a fair assessment?

As for the substance of your piece, while I agree that inanity and dumbing-down are lamentable, I find your "individualism and freedom"/"social values and responsibility" dichotomy unnecessarily Manichean, first of all (isn't there a place for both?).

Secondly--and forgive me for saying this--your emphasis on Western culture at the exclusion of all others comes off very provincial. Western humanities was my focus in college and in the decades since; but it has long been eclipsed by later discoveries of the strengths of other cultures--particularly traditional ("classical") China's--and, moreover, by reflection on the considerable blemishes of classical Western culture. Those Romans and Greeks you praise, and the British and Western Europeans after them, were not, in the global context, by any means high on the civilizational scale when measured by diplomacy, art and science, humane government, social and religious values, on and on.

Rather than champion that tradition in a conservative way, one might ask if critically weighing its strengths and weaknesses isn't preferable. The young still encounter Wordsworth (I prefer Keats and Blake), but in addition to admiring the aesthetics and the Romanticism, ask whether all that glitter is necessarily gold.

PS. I'm an American, but I've lived in China, Korea, and Singapore for the last 15 years. East Asia has traditions and cultures that could immensely benefit the West. The future can't afford the blindered exceptionalisms of the past.
You're setting up a straw man in railing against contemporary Social Studies textbooks. I remember very distinctly passages like the one you quoted: these were often separated in blue boxes or green-tinted pages that the teacher actively skipped (not because of disgreement but because those things go without saying) If memory is right, elementary social studies is the time for map IDs, vocabulary tests (words like industry, customs, region), and maybe PenPals or dioramas. In other words, it is pedagogically conservative and ideologically innocuous.
Also some 19th-century educators were much more concerned with instilling an ethical understanding among students that reinforced communal ties, starting from partner work then eventually working toward all-class and all-school collaborations, whether in a play or assembly or publication or even planting trees. Because these activities situate a student among his peers in an organized and planned way, they ensure individual (and often unique) contributions toward the common goal, promoting both self-esteem and comraderie. Is it communism or teamwork?
One of the reasons it is called Language Arts is to highlight the teaching goal, which is to facilitate students' application and mastery of the English language. A lazy teacher might otherwise confuse a class labeled "English" as simply a bibliographical list to assign, assuming that culture is achieved through absorbing ideas instead of by expressing them.
I haven't been in an elementary school lately, but budget cuts and national testing seem to be more likely culprits for dulling motivation than a textbook, a nearly obsolete medium as it is that probably lingers because of those same factors. Only a school that can't afford a landscape staff would need a text book to tell students planting trees is possible.
Your majestic civilisation, as you put it, is already falling apart, and it isn't based on any "individual competition", but rather on corporate-governmental socialism. The "capitalism" that you think exists is actually a ruse. It was always the government who controled the demand-creation and financed it, with its public procurement, etc. The so-called "individual competitors" come to play closer to the front-end, after the stage as been already set by the government and its crony corporations.
Wonderful read! It is hard to see how a cultivated man like Mr. Beran could stand to read the guff he writes about.

In the same spirit, philosopher Eric Voegelin, a German emigré, described an encounter with Cleanth Brooks:

"The nature of the problem can be gathered from a conversation with Cleanth Brooks. Once, when crossing the campus, I met him deep in sorrow and thought, and I asked him what worried him. He told me he had to prepare a chapter on typical mistakes for a textbook on English style that he was re-editing with Robert Penn Warren, and that it was quite a chore to find typical mistakes. I was a bit surprised and innocently told him, 'Well, it is very simple to find typical mistakes. Just take any education textbook and you will find half a dozen on every page.' He then explained to me that he could not use this method because educationists were far below the level of average literacy, and their mistakes could not be considered typical for an average English-speaking person. Instead, he was using sociology textbooks and sometimes had to read twenty pages of that stuff before running into a really good example. But even so, he had to worry because social scientists could not be considered to write typical English either but were below the average, though not as far below as educationists."
P.N.Ranganathan, Ph.D. January 07, 2013 at 2:37 PM
A comprehensive, candid article on the subject(no pun intended), with examples and references. Well articulated. The author would do well to refrain from creating new words (ex: slenderest).

A plethora of subjects such as art, art history, literature should be replaced with more applied science, applied engineering etc. We produce graduates in worthless fields of knowledge - on that topic, why are so many law schools still open when we have >50% of world's lawyers but produce far less engineers that China, Japan and India?
Typo in the title, I believe it should say "useFULness," not "useLESSness."
The textbook titles and quotes took me back to my own education in the 60's and 70's. the same bland, generic titles, the pages of prose that did not actually say anything. After years of Social Studies classes I was still not sure what the subject was actually about, or able to remember a single concrete lesson. The very blandness seemed suspicious. Since there was so little on the surface, what was really being taught?
How different when I began, as a young adult, to,read actual history; Paul Johnson's "Modern Times" comes to mind. At last, writing about society, government and history that dared have an actual opinion, that could find and tell a story amidst the train of events.
Thankfully my own home schooled children are being spared a trek through this wasteland.
One of my granddaughters in response, to my asking, told me she is majoring in Social Studies. I was aghast but kept my cool until my wife and I were alone. I would love to think of a way to get this article in front of her without creating a family catasrophe. Perhaps if there is enough work such as this ----???. Going over the cliff may be the only way.
Going back to 19th century elementary school texts is highly instructive by way of showing what utter rubbish we are now content to live with and learn by.
When I was in second grade (1957) my social studies class used the textbook "Someday Soon" by Paul Hanna. It talked about communities and how they worked; bakeries that baked bread at night. Firefighters, policemen, and their daily routine. How trains operated. Private industries such as the telephone company (there was only one then), bakeries, passenger trains and planes and boats served the larger communities. And of course, the concept of taxes and public parks and how we all own them was discussed. There were rich people (like the Pringle family discussed in the book) who had a mansion with a park-like setting. But you didn't have to be rich like the Pringles to enjoy such settings. Pay your taxes and you could have a public park. (Ironically, Paul Hanna, the author of Someday Soon, was a conservative.)

I always viewed the book with suspicion. What was he getting at? There was something strange about it. The worst were the tests the teacher gave. They were True-False tests with questions like "The fireman is my friend." The questions made no sense to me. Why is a fireman automatically my friend? For that matter, the Weekly Reader, which we had to read in our homeroom class, had a strange conception of the word "friend". A picture of a 4th of July parade that featured a black man, and three children who were distinctly identifiable as foreigners, bore the caption/challenge: "Find four friends."

My recollation of social studies was a class about the three branches of government and how they worked along with the founding documents. There was some time spent on other countries as well but from that I remember how many pounds of wheat was produced in Brazil and the population of Iceland.

Times sure have changed and the last 40 years.
Well written and coherent argument whose factual base I am unable to evaluate but I can abserve that such teachings have failed to influence since the USA is amongst the most individualistic society where most believe in the rewards of individual effort!
The comment below authored by Liz hits closer to the mark here. Soft studies – social studies – whatever the label – provides gainful employment well into our college curriculums for those teachers lacking a more pragmatic bent in their thinking. In a society dominated by working parents, keeping the kiddies occupied demands a Chinese menu of soft study offerings. In a more dynamic America of the past, the everyday man or woman on the street averaged 8 years of formal education. Today, 12 years of formal education, plus kindergarten, normally preceded by pre-school, is the minimum recommended education. Tack on an additional 4 to 6 years of college to ensure success and you have America today. If babysitting is the goal, American schools perform their function quite well and to begrudge educators a certain number of so-called liberal arts disciplines puts them at a disadvantage when trying to occupy students for a state government defined minimum number of attendance hours per annual budget period.

Americans today are over educated but not well educated. Compared to an 8 years of formal education America not very long ago, our new inventions in this modern era have slowed to a trickle. Serving its unstated but important role, education provides day care facilities well into the child’s early twenties, tends not to overly tax young minds with complex and difficult subjects and offers a myriad of alternatives for becoming educated without possessing any useful knowledge.

And social studies continues on throughout our individual lifetimes despite the lack of a formal classroom setting. But math, science and linguistic studies are best learned at a younger age when the ability to learn reaches its apex.

Here in California, white, black and Hispanic mothers resent the attention Asian mothers place on controlling their offspring’s education. Taiwanese kids who could easily place in the top 10% of their math and science classes without additional assistance still receive tutoring after school hours – but tutoring in math and science and never in social studies. These California tiger moms want their kids to receive a superior education while they yet remain children – systematized day care activities don’t seem to impress them.
Abolish social studies? Who's going to do that? Nobody. This is America 180 and the likes of the NEA have won and will never be defeated. Get used to it.
I remember Social Studies class! It wasn't anything like this article. Junior High was filled with mostly unmemorable courses amidst life-shaping social interactions. The debates (for one I had to defend the Civil War South), a 7-page report about a modern European country's politics and culture (Sweden) and a free discussion about Civil Rights come immediately to mind though. Those are all GOOD things that taught me about ideas, places and beliefs different from my own. No brainwashing at the expense of English class.

It was the southern California in the 80's like totally fer sure. Adults were scared of Communism. Kids were scared of nuclear war. The blame for a child's education in the 21st Century falls squarely on the Baby Boomers and older. It's your fault you let the simple concept of exposure to multiple cultures become a bastardization of fairness.

No offense or anything. No one reads these comments anyway right?
This article is very informative and absolutely correct in my view. I have been in schools for most of my life, either as a student, teacher, and parent. As a parent I school-proofed my children to regard themselves as individuals, and against this abomination of twisting minds into a "social" culture, hoping the system would see the error of their ways and correct them. Sadly, the exact opposite has happened. Obama is the epitome of how far it can go with people who live in the most fortunate place in the world, have only to look briefly at history and other places in the current world to see the horrors it creates. Please see my website for more. robertamaclisemcdonald.org
Beautifully written, powerfully stated, superbly referenced. Should be required reading for parents and school board members.
If we're getting rid of social studies is a good idea, getting rid of the field of social work is a great idea.
Excellent article. The elementary schools have also done away with individual awards on field day, or eliminated it altogether. I am sure that The Little Red Hen is not read. And, if it is, they tell how selfish the Hen is in the story. The Grasshopper is the victim in the Grasshopper and the Ants. My husband is British, so we did read poems to our kids. My grandma read me Robert Louis Stevenson. The Core Curriculum handed down by Arne Duncan takes out literature and adds Government instruction manuals.
StargazerInSavannah December 11, 2012 at 2:08 AM
Astounding, simple yet elegant and precisely to the point. Failed however to properly suggest that the combination of Marxist educators and incompetents in the Department of Education has almost completely destroyed education in these DisUnited States.
My one hundred year old mother is far better educated and much more intelligent than is our Harvard educated first couple. My mother, daughter of Norwegian immigrants who spoke little English began her education in Eastern Montana in a grain bin converted into a multi class school. Immigrants in the early twentieth century recognized opportunity required the ability to communicate in English the language of this nation. Multiculturalism and diversity have been promoted by the ignorant with degrees to the detriment of our nation.
Universities have become centers to promote Marxism and socialism where the communist gathered as he Soviet Union collapsed. The ignorance of the Ivy League runs so deep that our current president is quite comfortable among his supporters flying flags with Marxist symbols and images of the butcher Che.
With the passage of time, it is ever more obvious that those who are unable and unfit to do turn themselves into unionized 'educators'.
StargazerInSavannah December 11, 2012 at 2:08 AM
Astounding, simple yet elegant and precisely to the point. Failed however to properly suggest that the combination of Marxist educators and incompetents in the Department of Education has almost completely destroyed education in these DisUnited States.
My one hundred year old mother is far better educated and much more intelligent than is our Harvard educated first couple. My mother, daughter of Norwegian immigrants who spoke little English began her education in Eastern Montana in a grain bin converted into a multi class school. Immigrants in the early twentieth century recognized opportunity required the ability to communicate in English the language of this nation. Multiculturalism and diversity have been promoted by the ignorant with degrees to the detriment of our nation.
Universities have become centers to promote Marxism and socialism where the communist gathered as he Soviet Union collapsed. The ignorance of the Ivy League runs so deep that our current president is quite comfortable among his supporters flying flags with Marxist symbols and images of the butcher Che.
With the passage of time, it is ever more obvious that those who are unable and unfit to do turn themselves into unionized 'educators'.
-- "The language of social studies is always at the same dead level of inanity."

What are you smoking? My kid in Middle School this year memorized the Preamble to the Constitution, the first 197 words of the Declaration of Independence, and is now working on Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

Hopefully these words and the geography and the brush with Emily Dickinson and the introduction to Familiar Letters (including her relative, Abigail) will set her on a road where she can protect herself from empty NeoCon trash talk.
A letter I recently sent on this subject.

Re; 'Romney's double debate victory'.

Good column. Particularly liked your metaphorical characterization of the extreme
right as, '... a bunch of economic atoms bumping against each other in a low-tax,
profit seeking laboratory tube'. However this would have to in turn characterize
the extreme left as 'a crystalline lattice of atoms marching bravely and rigidly
together in complete equality of purpose and reward'. The optimum would seem
to lie somewhere between these ends of the spectrum.

By the end of the piece you seemed to find that a more humane niche in the
spectrum rests closer to Romney's more random world view than to Obama's
lattice. I think so too.
Classical home schoolers use a language and history-based approach to transmitting culture. Ancient languages, logic, rhetoric, narrative history, philosophy, poetry, drama and verse are all part of the deal. Real books are read. See Susan Wise Bauer's Well-Trained Mind and her online classical homeschool community. Phenomenal, inspiring, encouraging
As a person primarily educated in the 1980s and 1990s, I would tend to agree with the above article. I would even go so far as to say that this collective attitude has pervaded our society to an extent that would truly disgust the founders of our country. Our very Constitution continues to be "re-interpreted" in ways that diminish and even take away the individual rights that it's original drafters sought to protect.

That is not to say that I believe we should completely stop educating children about social responsibility and our country's place in the world.

I just feel that it is at least equally important to emphasize the individual's role in our history and the enormity of what just one individual can still accomplish.

I think that it it would behoove the educational community to try to find a balance between the group obligations that all community members have and the rights of each individual.
HI Rhonda,
I expect this essay reflects what most CM people have known. mhc
Hear, hear! Maybe kids would learn some real history and geography then.
What the writer describes here is the teaching of Socialism, not Social Studies as I was taught. Social Studies was taught to me as History, Geography and cultural differences around the world. I loved it so much that I pursued a degree in it. Alternatively, the teaching of Socialism is the horrible act of attempting to restrain initiative in an individual so as to to restrict all to the lack of potential of the uninformed and unmotivated.
As one who was subjected to "Social Studies", I rember it as a fairly content-less mishmash. The cynical side of me believes that if the schools state they will teach world history, US History, geography, etc. that desgnates a certain amount of content, and one can measure the actual ciriculuum against some benchmark. With "Social Studies", we have an amorphous category that could mean anything - much harder to objectively measure, and as such, lets our educators off the hook.
The actual implementation documents and frameworks relating to the Common Core implementation are completely guided by the mindset and intentions of the Social Reconstructionists. In fact the very definition of College and Career Ready, the new goal of K-12, is tied to acknowledging and daily fulfilling your commitment to others and the Common Good.

This was a great run through what Social Studies really means but with the new C3 Social Studies Framework-College, Career and Civic Life, grounded in a false view of the US Constitution and Vygotsky's sociocultural theory created to refine Soviet Man, we are nowhere close to pushing social studies out of US classrooms.

http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/tearing-up-the-fabric-of-a-free-society-the-new-college-career-and-civic-life-c3-framework/ is a recent writeup on the Framework. It tried to slip through Thanksgiving week. Appropriate as the Framework could well be classified as a turkey.
The author suggests abolition of social studies at the K - 12 levels, but not in university sociology, psychology, economics departments. Probably impossible and probably also not well advised. Nevertheless, some of his quotations (Rugg) indicate what I think is the primary problem even at the graduate level, but especially where he quotes. Rugg's hysteria over the lack of control in US society reflects his disgraceful ignorance of economics and how economies work. That problem didn't stop when schools began to phase out Rugg's books. I've read many books and articles by Marx & Marxists, including the very influential Frankfort School and have recoiled at their continuation of illiteracy in economics. And it continues today. It wouldn't be a problem if they had no influence over policy, but they do.
I disagree, social studies is a broad term and does not necessarily mean that
only those on the left are represented,

Social studies in my opinion should cover American history with a mixture of politics and economics, for instance talking also about politicians such as coolidge and talking about the free market and electricity, as well as the fact that liberals forget that higher tax rates during the 50s and 70s had some many deductions that few if any paid those high rates.

The problem the author seeks to resolve is not with social studies, but with a one-sided curriculum and little or no debate since children often don't question what they are taught. Certain more balanced professors and also in private schooling use social studies too.