Social Studies Curriculum Review (2/1/2012)
The Greenwich Public Schools Social Studies department is currently undergoing a curriculum review. Step I was presented to the Board of Education in February of 2011. The current program was reviewed to determine alignment to the new Connecticut state social studies frameworks. National social studies standards and expectations were also analyzed. Step I illustrated a large portion of the current courses and curriculum to be in alignment with state and national expectations. Comparable district programs and developments of influence in research and practice were also analyzed in Step I. Data was presented that noted the role that the social studies program at Greenwich High School played in CAPT writing skills – and the increase in these scores. Connections to the Greenwich Public Schools Vision of the Graduate were explored in the Step I presentation and document. Elective and advance placement courses were also discussed and compared to other Connecticut districts. Step II of the social studies curriculum review will be presented to the Board of Education on February 2, 2012, and Step III is scheduled to be presented in the Fall of 2012.
Successful learning programs reflect an understanding of the social and intellectual capacities of students as well as an awareness of the skills necessary for individual development. An effective learning program must define distinct skills to be acquired while taking into account what students are able to learn at each stage of their development. Above all, an effective curriculum demonstrates a respect for the needs of individual learners.
Social Studies Learner Goal
A successful social studies program has at least three major components: skills, knowledge (concepts and content), and application. A sequenced and developmental skills component is necessary to provide the student with the tools and processes to understand and use the concepts and content at each particular level. The essential skills categories that form the matrix include quantitative, geography, social interaction, research, and critical thinking. As the students move through the program, they will apply their learnings to increasingly sophisticated concepts and content. They then can communicate their findings effectively while understanding and respecting differing viewpoints.
A successful learning program also must sequence its offerings in such a manner that the learnings are not only cumulative and expansive, but also meet the individual student’s needs. Therefore, the sequencing of social studies course offerings must mesh effectively not only with the grade organization of the school, but as well with their philosophies of education. The sequencing and distribution of objectives and courses must take into account student readiness and be based upon the existence of learning materials at the level of the child. Time must be available for enrichment and remediation as needed. Each child’s learning experience must be a carefully conceived cumulative climb towards the program’s learner goal; namely all students will develop increased knowledge, comprehension, and skills in the social studies (history, geography, civics, economics, and culture) in order to prepare students to become responsible citizens in a democratic society.
The basic goal of endeavoring to prepare young people to be humane and rational participants underscores the indispensability of social studies as a learning program. It is the link between human dignity, the opportunity to know, choose, and act, and the rational processes, the generation, validation, and application of knowledge. Social studies education seeks to arm the students with the knowledge and abilities that will enable them to put what they know and what they can do towards the betterment of the human condition.
All students will develop increased knowledge, comprehension and skill in the Social Studies (history, geography, civics, economics and culture) in order to prepare students to become responsible citizens in a democratic society.