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Social Studies Education, as embodied in the courses of study listed in this section, must be presented in ways that will enable all youngsters to learn the Social Studies concepts, content, and processes thoroughly and successfully, thus enabling each student to meet the Social Studies Content Standards of the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards (HCPS). The Social Studies Standards are broad statements of what students are expected to know and do in each of the disciplines. The benchmarks are more specific, each emphasizing the specific content and skills required by the related topic and serve as the foundation for the curriculum to help students reach common objectives for their grade or course.
The Social Studies content standards and benchmarks have been developed for five major disciplines that make up the five strands within the Social Studies. They are History, Political Science/Civics, Cultural Anthropology, Geography, and Economics. The standards represent the essence of each discipline, therefore requiring focus on open-ended problems and issues, themes and major concepts, and the skills and processes that are endemic to each discipline.
The Social Studies content standards reflect the goals as stated in Meeting the Challenge: A Framework for Social Studies Restructuring (Hawaii Department of Education, May 1995) and Curriculum Framework for Social Studies (Hawaii Department of Education, May 2003). The goals enable all learners to develop:
- civic responsibility and the skills of a participating citizenry;
- perspective on their own life experiences so that they see themselves as makers and shapers of the larger human adventure in time and place;
- critical understandings of the history, geography, economic, political, and social
- institutions, traditions, and values of the United States as expressed in unity, diversity, and interdependence;
- appreciation of the global diversity and interdependence of the world’s people,
- institutions, traditions, values, and environment; and
- critical dispositions and habits of mind appropriate to the world of work and life-long learning.
These goals are reflected in the Social Studies Content and Performance Standards and benchmarks and, thus, must be integrated into each of the Social Studies courses. The benchmarks within the content standards should be viewed as guiding the content and skills within each Social Studies course.
Social Studies courses from grades 6-12 are organized into general categories: Social Sciences, Government, History, Philosophy/Humanities, Ethnic Studies, and Directed Studies. All courses will encourage active learning and accept every student as a valued member of the learning community.
SOCIAL STUDIES IN THE INTERMEDIATE OR MIDDLE SCHOOL
Intermediate or middle schools (grades 7-8 or 6-8) should offer social studies courses that allow all students to meet the 6-8 standards and benchmarks. The middle school social studies curriculum needs to include topics that engage the students’ interests, as well as extend their context for learning to gain a global perspective.
Young adolescents’ developmental characteristics have been clearly defined. Physical
characteristics include marked increases in body growth, skeletal and structural changes, widely varying developmental rates and faster development in girls than in boys. Psychosocial characteristics include increased social interactions, and concern with friendships, constant examination of development and overall “self” quests for freedom and independence and fluctuating self-concept. Cognitive characteristics include increased abilities to think hypothetically, abstractly, reflectively, and critically, and to make ethical and moral choices.
Promising programs in social studies can take several directions. Supplementary activities to use with textbooks and new programs to replace present texts emphasize active learning and participation in research, community and other civic projects. Content should increase students’ thinking about and discussion of diverse multicultural perspectives of history, contemporary and geographical events and issues. Students should be using primary source materials and engaging in authentic inquiry.
Social studies experiences and activities should include cooperative learning, small and large group activities, experiential learning, and exploratory programs. Grouping students by ability should be avoided at all costs. Equating ability or achievement levels with development can result in dire consequences for academic achievement, self-concept, multicultural concerns, and teacher behaviors. (Manning and Lucking, 1990)