London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Teacher attitudes on teaching social issues in the elementary school

Author(s) J. A. Spinthourakis and P. Papoulia-Tzelepi  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2001  
Editor A. Ross, Learning for Democratic Europe  
Language English  
Age group -  
Education is based on knowledge, beliefs and the values of a society. Through formal and informal means, the education system promotes the learning of elements of its culture to develop productive members of society. The nature of the world challenges our schools in terms of the curriculum, instructional techniques and the training provided for educators. The degree to which elementary school teachers are prepared to undertake the teaching of social issues rather than just historical facts is part of the overall transmission of culture at the local, national and regional level. Narrowly focused history teaching that simply promotes nationalistic pride can lead to boundaries to knowledge, that limit examination and inquiry into issues. Past studies on the teaching of nationalistic history and civics in schools show that societies have manipulated their histories and perpetuated ethnocentrism through schooling (Nelson 1996). As new knowledge is revealed, there will be change in values. Social studies attempts to teach children about the problems of the individual and her/his relation to others. The underlying premise of social studies instruction is to develop competent civic participants, and it builds on the earliest human experiences (Nelson, 1996). Social studies teach skills of living together, identity, problem solving, research skills, scientific investigation and a scientific attitude towards life problems. The challenges are to identify how to teach teachers to become critical thinkers in a changing multicultural society as how to involve students in this process

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