Archive for Tuesday, April 16, 2013

State board OK’s new social studies standards

April 16, 2013


TOPEKA - The Kansas State Board of Education voted today to adopt new curriculum standards for history, government and social studies that put more focus on teaching students to apply knowledge and skills to real-world situations.

The new standards also put more emphasis on the role minority groups have played in American society, something that gratified African-American leaders like Rev. Ben Scott of the Topeka unit of the NAACP.

“There have been omissions in the past,” said Scott, who served on the committee that developed the new standards. “African-Americans have made a substantial, and still continue to make substantial contributions to our country. And I think it's imperative for our educators to make sure that every kid in the state of Kansas understands the great contributions that all ethnic groups have made.”

Rev. Ben Scott

Rev. Ben Scott

The inclusion of African-Americans and other groups is reflected throughout the document. In fourth grade, for example, students are expected to identify various famous Kansans and the roles they have played.

The list of suggested Kansans to study includes names like Bob Dole, Dwight Eisenhower and Amelia Earhart. But it also includes people like the native American artist Blackbear Bosin, African-American photographer and author Gordon Parks, and Charles Curtis, the first Native American vice president of the United States.

By fifth grade, students will be asked to describe how the beliefs of American Indians differ from those of Europeans. By eighth grade they may be asked to describe how the idea of women's rights has both changed and remained the same since the mid-1800s.

Cathryn Moore, the Lawrence school district's social studies curriculum specialist, said that won't require much of a change for most local classrooms. “I feel that Lawrence does a good job of representing those populations already,” she said.

But Moore said she likes the new focus on teaching students how to apply the knowledge and skills they learn.

“The focus shifts more from historical knowledge to historical skills,” she said. “So that's nice, because students will have more exposure to historical skills and how they can effectively use those.”

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douglas6280 5 years ago

“The focus shifts more from historical knowledge to historical skills,” Translation, kids will not know much about history, geography, and government, but they might take the time to Google it. There is not a single shred of research that shows that this will work. Mark my words in 5-7 years there will be all kinds of news reports about how little our kids know about social studies.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

The traditional education in history in this country has been based on the memorization of facts, but those "facts" have been all too often incomplete or just downright wrong, with the express purpose to indoctrinate, not educate.

bearded_gnome 5 years ago

uh, article is wrong. looking at the document, this is for more than just social studies standards.

for years, high school grads have already been graduated woefully weak in: history; social studies/government. yes, critical thinking has been lacking, but I seriously wonder if this model will achieve improvement in that.

I also think that focusing on standards misses the much bigger picture: uninvolved/unsupportive parents; lack of disciplin; effects of video games and TV on attention span, not enough promotion of reading books, etc. kids are not generally getting a good start.
the value of simply having kids read, and read a lot cannot be over stated, as this expands vocabulary, and critical thinking. there is a great sense of effectiveness each kid gains from reading, that knowledge to do can be had, and knowledge of history can be gained at ones fingertips.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

Right on. The overwhelming majority of the problems at school begin at home, while schools receive far more blame than they deserve.

bearded_gnome 5 years ago

thanks, and I've done a little more reading on this P21 standards stuff and I don't like it. maybe to gain support they fluff up a little minority ref but overall historical teaching is apparently decreased. at very least it looks like yet another fad, but also seems excessively workplace function oriented and not enough towards other equally valid values we should have for sending kids to school.

I also am deeply suspicious of some of the foundations and the NEA being behind these. I know in MO there's an effort to overturn these standards, and I bet in the next KS legislature there'll be a bill to force KSBOE to reevaluate this.

bearded_gnome 5 years ago

also says standards will teach kids to be ethical and treat others with respect or something like that. sounds good, but "ethical" ... means just what? P21 is also described as "global education" and it seems that before we simply stamp such values into the foreheads of our kids we should at least have an open discussion about just what values these are.

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