Etymology, the study of the origin of words and how the meanings of words change over time, is just as relevant in social studies as it is in English classes. When words appear in a language, how words evolve and change, and when words are discarded tell a wider social, political, economic, or cultural story. For students learning social studies, the benefits of learning these words can be immense, and serve to build essential skills.
Quacks love health crises, and the COVID-19 virus has become very lucrative for people who make claims about unscientific cures. In recent months, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued warnings to several companies who are promoting fraudulent products. These companies deceptively claim their products can treat or cure the virus. Modern teas, oils, and other treatments are not scientifically proven to be effective, yet customers are desperate enough to fall for these “curative” products. This isn't to say holistic and alternative medicines do not have healing properties for some, but overall the efficacy of these products and practices is largely unproven by evidence-based research.
The United States has been involved in trade wars with nations around the world in recent years. Instead of weapons, these “wars” are waged with tariffs, taxes on imported or exported goods.
Essential questions ask students to consider the “big picture” of a topic. Answering an essential question is not easy, or quick, but these questions encourage students to explore wider and deeper. Information must be gathered, analyzed, and synthesized to construct quality answers. Therefore, students must also be able to answer the “just the fact” questions.
Popular culture is the culture of the majority or the masses of people in a society—what a large part of a population believes or does, and objects representing beliefs or activities within that society. In the modern world, popular culture is spread and advertised by mass media through the internet and social media; television, movies, and radio; and printed books, magazines, and newspapers.
The Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries transformed technology, the economy, and daily life. Today, we are living in the midst of a technological and internet revolution. While the terms for this modern transformation vary somewhat (information technology revolution, fourth industrial revolution, globalization, social media revolution), the impact on our daily lives is undeniable. The impact of our modern revolution may seem unique in the span of human history. However, many of these seemingly new trends are part of a much longer story of change. The following three examples can be useful in connecting the past to the present.
Going viral is the rapid spread of information, not diseases. The phrase entered the English language in the late 1980s and is usually associated with the internet, email, or social media but can also refer to information spread by word of mouth.
The discipline of economics is often bewildering to students and non-specialists, full of complex theories and challenging charts. Teaching everyday words like market, scarcity, depression, opportunity, and choice becomes much more complicated in the context of economics classes. In addition, the impact of economic theories and policies is not always clear cut; what may benefit some can be harmful to others. Economic policies fall on an ideological spectrum, making classroom discussions of current economic events especially challenging.
We want our classrooms to be utopian communities, ideal worlds of cooperation and happiness. Classroom-management experts describe strategies to achieve that dream, but their advice falls across a continuum with the top-down, teacher-in-charge approach at one end and the bottom-up, students-create-the-rules at the other. Which approach is best?
History is rarely at the top of polls of “favorite subjects in school.” While a magical cure for history aversion has yet to be discovered, the following three tips for connecting the past to the present can make history lessons more relevant to students’ lives.