Adam Smith and his famous book The Wealth of Nations often make lists of things to know about the eighteenth century in economics and history classes. How can teachers explain his impact instead of making Smith just another factoid to memorize? Adam Smith was witness to and influenced by three major movements: the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution. Associate Smith’s economic thought with these larger events to make him memorable.
Most times a movement promotes a direct change in society. A revolution creates a volcanic chain reaction that leaves an indelible mark on the world.
The history of America was built by many cultures and ethnic groups. American history encompasses a myriad of cultures, and during the month of February we get the opportunity to celebrate and put a spotlight on Black history and how a race of marginalized people continue to strive against the odds and work toward equality.
February is the month that many teachers typically introduce information about the sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. From his lessons on money to his famous Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln is heralded as a great American hero. The question to consider is “How can one know the man who is so overwhelmingly portrayed by iconography (monuments and memorials)?”
Capitalism, socialism, and communism are three key concepts in social studies, with complex definitions and complicated histories. Explaining these concepts in the classroom is muddled even more by how these words are used in modern media. The meaning is often obscured by political alliances and deliberate attempts to mislead.
American democracy began as an experiment. Historically, nations around the world were empires founded on a hierarchy of monarchs or dictatorship. The founding fathers implemented the US Constitution to ensure that the new nation would be different and represent the interests of all individuals rather than aristocrats—hence the creation of our democratic two-party system of government and the electoral college voting system that elects the presiding members of the executive branch.
November is Native American Heritage Month, or, as it is commonly referred to, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.
Determining whether voting is a right or a privilege has been a battleground for states to control who can cast a ballot in elections. Technically, states regulate eligible voters, but, through the course of history, the US federal government has made several key decisions that have altered those requirements in an attempt to create more equality in the voting process.
Social studies teachers hold the key to our future.
Bells end and begin our classes. In the past, teachers rang hand-held bells to start the school day. The Liberty Bell may be the icon that students know from history, but there are many ways to use bells in the teaching of social studies. Explore with your students how the sound of bells is present in our daily life and in the past.