Social studies offers students the chance to make connections across time. Because the fields included in the world of social studies are consistently tied to the changes in human culture over time, understanding social studies can help students to see trends, risks, and opportunities for growth.
The Fields Included
The term social studies include
- history, or what has been recorded
- geography, or where those events happened
- psychology, or why individuals do things
- sociology, or why groups of people do things
- anthropology, or why cultures develop as they do
There are few rights and wrongs in social studies, and there are few absolutes in these fields.
When you study historical periods, you may have been taught that the depression was over by the beginning of World War II.
However, looking at the economics of the time, we realize that the industry of World War II actually did a lot to boost the savings of American citizens. Having lots of work but having to ration resources means that you stay home and save money.
Seeing Connections Across Borders and Time
Interestingly enough, the history of the world is generally tracked on a line that moves from war to war, putting the winners in the storytelling seat.
For example, studying the lives of the citizens of Germany after the Great War could generate a very different view of the beginnings of the Nazi movement. The Weimar Republic was a difficult, brutal place to be.
The nationalistic response of the Germans and their dedication to Hitler is easier to understand when you note just how downtrodden the German people were by the restrictions placed upon them. Of course, this is not an excuse for those in the know.
A Study of Revolution
How did the French Revolution differ from the Czech Revolution? Both were based on frustration over the lack of personal autonomy and freedom. Both took out oppressive power structures that needed to be removed because the structures simply did not serve the people.
However, while the Czech or Velvet Revolution did not include killing anyone, the French Revolution killed many people and included military action against the citizens who were in revolt. The French Revolution also resulted in an emperor who was later deposed.
Understanding the underlying causes of revolution, how people reacted to it and the eventual outcome is an endlessly expanding field of study. Social studies can teach us that borders are temporary.
Cultural expansion can be driven by many different forces. Humans are consistent only in that they must embrace change to expand their lives.
There is nothing about any field of study in social studies that is if/then, always/never, or an ordinary yes/no. The fields of social studies are complex because we humans are complicated. To help your children understand the huge variety of the human experience, consider checking out 7th grade social studies curriculum at Adobe Education Exchange.