Wouldn’t it be great if our country would take a moment to pause and reflect on the reasoning behind the Constitution? The Founding Fathers wanted to make America great after a long war for freedom, but they were educated, pragmatic and thoughtful about how they set out to form this country based on a written document which is a cornerstone in our country, the Constitution. I don’t know if our citizens today really think about the true meaning of it, or for that matter can even describe the principles of that document. I would guess most them don’t care and take for granted what the Constitution says anyhow. Until eighth grade, I had never heard much about it before, and I really didn’t think it applied to me. Boy was I wrong.Hmm. Part of that statement made me cringe. Every public school that receives federal funds is required to teach about the Constitution once a year. We did these lessons as part of our studies for Constitution Day. But the lack of prior knowledge this student described is a reality that springs from the marginalization of social studies. Research shows the testing era had a laser-like focus on language arts and math, with less time devoted to social studies or civics education. Many argue that social studies content is easily woven into literacy units. They cite national standards suggesting that instruction in the use of nonfiction and informational text means that social studies will be present in the classroom. Others suggest that social studies will at least be embedded in interdisciplinary instruction because it is a core content area. Wrong. We have yet to see this happen, and the proof is in classrooms and our communities across America. If we as a country are satisfied with the status quo, and based on current national conversations I am betting most of us are not, then keep things the same. If not, then as an educator, parent or community member, consider these three beginning steps to change this narrative.
Michelle Pearson is the 2011 Colorado State Teacher of the Year and a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year. She is is a middle school social studies teacher in the Adams 12 Five Star School District in Thornton, Colorado, where she has been teaching for 25 years.
Your donation will support the work we do at brightbeam to shine a light on the voices who challenge decision makers to provide the learning opportunities all children need to thrive.