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Social Science

Watch a Video of a Social Science Teacher
Photo of Steve Cox Steve Cox:
“Teachers need to, in this discipline, get their students to maybe think at a higher level and go to the next step. That is something that is definitely part of your everyday environment in social studies.”

Why Is History-Social Science Important to Teach?

History-social science opens the door to exploring the how and why of mankind, and helps place the human condition into a larger context. The study of history-social science develops students’ critical thinking and analysis skills, and teaches students to evaluate change and continuity over time; recognizing patterns and trends in society, politics, as well as the economy.

Perhaps most importantly, history-social science courses allow students to develop a sense of what it means to be a citizen, as well as their rights and responsibilities in this role. In these courses, students are encouraged to take an active role in their communities and the nation, and how to work for change. Students also learn what it means to be a citizen of the world and to develop a respect for all individuals regardless of whether they share similar beliefs.

What Exactly is Taught in a History-Social Science Course?

The field of social science includes the disciplines of psychology, sociology, anthropology, US history, world history, American government, geography and more. While each discipline has a unique content focus, teaching any of these courses often requires the teacher to draw from or include elements other social science disciplines. The History-Social Science Framework for California Public SchoolsIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site provides guidance for instruction from grades K-12. The primary grades (K-3) focus on students’ social skills and responsibilities and understanding their community and local history.  Grade four branches out to California history, studying the state’s multiethnic heritage, geography, and rich culture. Grades 5, 8 and 11 focus on various periods of US history, with some overlap to provide for review from previous study. Grades 6, 7, and 10 focus on world history, geography and culture and provide a global study of the past which encourages cultural awareness, acceptance and respect for others. In grade 12 students conclude their studies with one semester of American government and one semester of economics.

Cool Resources

The Department of LaborIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site provides graphs, charts, and concise articles covering many Social Science fields.

School of Online Resources for EducationIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site includes lessons by grade level and by topic for K-12 Social Science courses required for graduation.

The U.S. Census BureauIcon indicating a URL to an external Web site provides interesting facts about the U.S. population, and includes lesson plans for teachers as well as activities for kids and teens.

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