4 Reasons Why I Love Teaching Social Studies Essay
Two weeks done. Kids are settling in, Open House is over, and the real teaching is starting. It’s given me cause to reflect on what I love so much about this job. Here are the top five reasons why I love teaching Social Studies.
1.) I help kids make sense of their world
From why we speak the languages we speak, eat the foods we eat, and even why we wear pants, Social Studies has the answer. I love watching kids’ eyes light up when they realize that this world they live in wasn’t always like this, but came to be through the endlessly fascinating combination of geography, cultures, wars, discoveries, and luck that comprises Social Studies.
Most fun are the “What Ifs?” If the 300 hadn’t stopped Xerxes at Thermoplaye, would democracy as we know it ever developed? If the plucky English hadn’t beaten back the Spanish Armada, would there have been a British North America?
If our students know why the world is the way it is, then they can be more effective in creating a better world to live in tomorrow.
2.) The curriculum is awesome
Some days I think, “teaching this stuff is my job?” History is what I do for fun. Gladiatorand Braveheart are my go to movies. I listen to the History of Rome and Revolutions podcasts whenever I run or drive. I have to force myself to read books that aren’t historical non-fiction.
A lot of people ask me if they should become a Social Studies teacher. I tell them if you love history and love working with kids, you’ll do fine.
3.) Social Studies teaches the most important skills students ever acquire
The ability of citizens to think critically is the lifeblood of any democracy. We teach our students to sniff out bias, question authority, and not take everything you see, read or hear at face value. We teach students that it’s up to them to hold their leaders accountable. They have to elect the right people to lead, speak up when they see something bad happening, and forcefully advocate for a better world.
While I understand the importance of math and science, it drives me crazy when states and districts focus on those disciplines at the expense of the humanities. Scientists and mathematicians without an understanding of civic duty or the greater good provide Hollywood with 90% of the bad guys super heroes fight. Social studies provides the context in which scientific knowledge should be used and helps draw the line between what is right and what is wrong.
4.) I feel I’m helping make the world a better place
One of the most powerful things I teach my students is their role in the world is not as passive bystanders, but active participants with a responsibility to do good. I teach 6th graders, and even at their age there is a strong desire to do good, but often little idea of how to act on those feelings.
Teaching social studies gives us the chance not only to teach students to change the world, but to actually do it. Sometimes the changes are small, like starting a recycling program or starting a school garden. Sometimes they are much, much bigger, like throwing hosting and entrepreneur fair to support social change organizations. Those are just some things my middle school students have done.