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Taking Notes: Social studies helps create better citizens

Admit it. Most of the news you hear about education focuses on math and science. Occasionally you might hear something thrown in about the importance of the arts.
But when was the last time you read or heard something about social studies? Social studies seems to have been left out of our conversations on education and that’s sad. Social studies is a crucial part of education and helps students become well-rounded citizens.
What is social studies? Social studies is about a wide array of topics including geography, literacy, history, government, economics, and current affairs. The different courses that make up our social studies department teach students to be well-informed, critically thinking citizens of our community and the world.
The National Council for the Social Studies says “Young people who are knowledgeable, skillful, and committed to democracy are necessary to sustain and improve our democratic way of life.”
The classes you find in our social studies department do all of those things. They are practical and relevant courses that teach our students to be good citizens of the world. Think about history. Our history classes look at where we have come from, not only in the United States but throughout the world.
This is essential as we teach students to recognize our accomplishments and mistakes so they can help create a better existence for all of us. As an ancient philosopher once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Economics, government and personal finance also fall within our social studies department. These required classes are relevant, real-life courses that prepare students to step out into the adult world. Personal finance does that in a very practical way that affects students even while in high school. Everyone needs to know how to manage their money.
Government makes students more aware of how federal, state and local governments work so they can be better informed citizens. Economics looks at our country’s economy and how it functions. Students study such things as the stock market, banking systems, taxes, government spending, and a variety of other money issues that affect us at a national level.
World geography is another class that is offered and it gives students a perspective on where things are in the world. Students in this class study regions of the world, major rivers and mountain ranges, cultures of different countries, and how these countries relate to the United States.
Three classes that are electives can also broaden students’ views of the world around them while providing an excellent bridge into college. Contemporary issues looks at the world today and takes its curriculum directly from the headlines. Psychology and sociology study individual and group behavior and consider why people act as they do.
Since most colleges require students to take a class in either psychology or sociology, these courses provide students with the background necessary to be successful in pursuing a higher level of study.
But what social studies classes are actually required for our students? In order to graduate, students must take U.S. history, government, economics, and personal finance. Students are also required to take either world history or world geography. With such a wide variety of classes available, students are encouraged to consider taking social studies classes as electives. With such practical, relevant choices available, anyone should be interested in broadening their view of the world.

By Vicky Livesay