primary social studies

Evolution of the Primary School Social Studies Curriculum in Singapore: From ‘Moulding’ Citizens to Developing Critical Thinkers

"Most educators in democratic societies are of the view that citizenship education is crucial for the continued existence of a society. There is, however, a lack of agreement about what the goals and purposes of citizenship education should be. Most researchers agree that Social Studies is utilised for three primary purposes, viz., socialisation into the norms of society; acquisition of disciplinary concepts and processes; and the promotion of critical or reflective thinking (Ross, 2006). In Singapore, Social Studies is an important vehicle for citizenship education in Singapore. This paper examines the development of Social Studies as a subject for citizenship education in primary schools and shows that the purpose of Social Studies has for many years, focused on socialising the young into the norms of Singapore society. The primary goal has been the development of moral, law abiding and patriotic citizens. This goal has remained constant although towards the 21st century, there is recognition of a need to include the development of critical thinking in the Social Studies. This, however, is still a fledgling goal and more deliberate effort is required to achieve this. "

What is History Teaching?

"This article looks at the nature of history and how we can teach history as a discipline. It suggests several steps that teachers may want to use to teach history as an investigation as well as how doing history in the field."

Using Stories for Teaching Primary Social Studies

"This article is a revisit of the author’s previous paper, Sim (2004): Storytelling for Social Studies in the Primary Classroom, published in the Teaching and Learning journal. The author revisits the rationale for storytelling in social studies, the differences between story reading and storytelling, and how to choose a story and tell it. The author also includes an extended list of suitable stories for primary social studies and suggests ways of integration into lessons. What is new in this paper is the introduction of two additional approaches for using stories in teaching. These approaches are the shared book approach and the integrated biographical inquiry. Under the shared book approach, the role of questioning is emphasized and elaborated. Suitable classroom examples are also included to help teachers apply the new approaches in class. "

Making Cooperative Learning Work for Teaching and Learning

"This article is a continuation of the previous article entitled, “Let’s have Cooperative Learning for Lessons!” In this article, how to plan, organize and conduct productive cooperative learning in the primary social studies classroom will be featured. Suggestions on managing challenging student behaviours for successful cooperative learning and the assessment and reflection of such lessons are also highlighted."

Let’s Have Cooperative Learning for Lessons!

"One cannot assume that learning will necessarily take place just because children are doing group work. To ensure that productive learning takes place, there is a need to infuse elements of cooperative learning into the group activities. In this article, the key principles and structures of cooperative learning as well as the benefits of using cooperative learning are discussed. Some suggestions on the use of cooperative learning, together with classroom examples are also presented."

Storytelling in the Social Studies Classroom

"Many teachers tell stories. They take a story, whether their own or another’s, and turn it into the experience of their students. This article showcases four stories from secondary social studies classrooms in Singapore that illustrated how teachers have used stories for various purposes. Stories were observed to be used to teach morals, to inspire empathy and cultural understanding, engage students, and help them acquire thinking skills such as assessing the reliability of sources. Stories, when used effectively, can achieve multiple purposes, many of which are aligned with the kinds of citizenship qualities and skills we want to see developed in learners of all ages. Suggestions on how teachers can incorporate storytelling in their lessons are provided at the end of this paper. Even though the four stories are from the secondary level, the ideas and suggestions in this article can have application in primary social studies classrooms as well."

Teaching Geographical Concepts and Skills in Primary Social Studies

"Geography is a subject that helps children understand and appreciate the world they live in. The subject enables them to make thoughtful decisions and take responsible actions towards sustainable living. This article focuses on the teaching of geographical concepts and skills in the primary social studies curriculum. Questions on what is geography, why teach geography, what are the key geographical concepts and skills in the primary social studies curriculum and how can these concepts and skills be taught will be elaborated."

Identifying What to Teach: Using Concepts, Generalizations and Driving Questions

"Social studies lessons have often been criticized as being boring, just learning a list of factual details or doing meaningless activities that may be fun but do not lead to real understanding. As curricular-instructional gatekeepers (Thornton, 2005), how do we select content and teach it in a meaningful way? This paper discusses how we may enhance student understanding through planning instruction around big ideas such as key concepts and generalizations. A conversational style of writing is deliberately used together with prompts to think and examples of how the lesson may look like, to make this paper more interactive and engaging for the reader."

What is Social Studies?

"This paper explores the question of the nature and purpose of social studies with the aim of showing the relevance and importance of teaching the subject well. The authors argue that social studies is about citizenship education and as such, is an important subject in the school curriculum. Teachers’ orientations towards the subject, that is, the beliefs about the goals of the subject and perspectives that teachers may hold about what constitute critical knowledge, skills and values to be taught are also discussed. Some key knowledge, skills and values essential to developing young people to become informed, concerned and participative citizens are highlighted with some examples of what lessons may look like. "

Teaching Cultural Diversity and Sense of Identity in the Primary Two Social Studies Classroom in Singapore: Analysis and Critique

"According to Rose (2016), images display the world in particular ways through “made meanings” or representations that are socially and culturally constructed. Visual images form part of teaching resources used in classrooms and hence play an important role in the construction of knowledge for children. This paper examines how cultural diversity and identity are taught in Singapore in order to understand the extent to which it fosters or hinders the understanding of the complexities of cultural diversity and identity through a curriculum critique of the reader New Girl in Town which is used within Primary Two classrooms as a teaching resource for cultural appreciation. Through semiology as critical visual methodology, this study examines how dominant ideologies of cultural diversity and identity as defined by the state are represented and reinforced through the images presented in the reader. Key findings from this study highlight the implications of representing cultural diversity and identity as static and non-complex constructions of individuals and the extent to which it hinders the understanding of cultural diversity and identity."

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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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