Social StudiesSocial Studies Education in the 21st Century
The digital age has transformed social studies education, allowing 21st-century learners to transcend the limits of time and place and experience historic events virtually. By expanding their learning networks through online collaboration with experts and other students from around the world, New Jersey social studies students develop an increased depth of understanding of our global society. At the same time, their understanding of the fundamental principles and values of American democracy and citizenship provides the conceptual framework that allows them to make informed decisions about local, national, and international issues and challenges.
Mission: Social studies education provides learners with the knowledge, skills, and perspectives needed to become active, informed citizens and contributing members of local, state, national, and global communities in the digital age.
Vision: An education in social studies fosters a population that:
· Is civic minded, globally aware, and socially responsible.
· Exemplifies fundamental values of American citizenship through active participation in local and global communities.
· Makes informed decisions about local, state, national, and global events based on inquiry and analysis.
· Considers multiple perspectives, values diversity, and promotes cultural understanding.
· Recognizes the implications of an interconnected global economy.
· Appreciates the global dynamics between people, places, and resources.
· Utilizes emerging technologies to communicate and collaborate on career and personal matters with citizens of other world regions.
Intent and Spirit of the Social Studies Standards
All students receive social studies instruction from Preschool through grade 12. The challenges of the 21st century are complex, have global implications, and are connected to people, places, and events of the past. The study of social studies focuses on deep understanding of concepts that enable students to think critically and systematically about local, regional, national, and global issues.
Authentic learning experiences that enable students to apply content knowledge, develop citizenship skills, and collaborate with students from around the world prepare New Jersey students for the 21st-century workplace. The natural integration of technology in social studies education allows students to overcome geographic borders, apply scientific and mathematical analysis to historical questions and contemporary issues, appreciate cultural diversity, and experience events through the examination of primary sources.
The New Jersey social studies standards and indicators reflect national and state standards and other documents published by the National Center for History Education, National Council for Social Studies, National Council for Geographic Education, Center for Civic Education, National Council on Economic Education, Mid-Continent Research on Education and Learning, National Assessment of Educational Progress, and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
Social studies instruction occurs throughout the P-12 spectrum:
· At the Preschool level, students participate in interdisciplinary activities that promote cultural awareness, sensitivity to individual differences, and respect for diversity.
· In grades K-4, students learn fundamental concepts about government, citizenship, geography, economics, and history. The focus of instruction is on developing an understanding of core democratic values, the rights and responsibilities of American citizens, and how key people and events contributed to the development of the American heritage. Exploration of cultural universals enables students to realize how the availability of resources, the changing environment, and innovation impact everyday life.
· In grades 5-8, students build upon K-4 foundational content. Through instruction in U.S. History and World History/Global Studies, they begin to analyze the implications of government structures and economic policies for individuals, communities, nations, and global relationships. The study of migratory patterns and belief systems that in the past led to cooperation and conflict among groups of people enable students to realize the significance of cultural transmission in today’s global society. Relevant activities that help students connect content knowledge to current issues and that promote service learning empower students to become civic-minded and socially active.
· In grades 9-12, students continue to study U.S. History and World History/Global Studies. They consider historical viewpoints in order to analyze the role of the individual in society and the significance of fundamental documents to basic human rights. Socratic discussion groups and debate activities enable students to develop sound reasoning and effective communication skills. Opportunities to collaborate with students from around the world and experts in the field, and to develop innovative solutions to real world problems on the local, national, and global levels, mirror the 21st-century workplace and allow students to practice important career skills. By the end of grade 12, students have a heightened understanding of the cause-and-effect relationship between past and present events, recognize patterns of interactions, and understand the impact of events in an interconnected world.