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Integrating Global Education Into Middle School Social Studies Classes

3858 words - 15 pages

Middle school education is often deemed a period of transition from childhood into young adulthood where social outlets and influence are of increasing importance. It is a unique age group, one that often invokes statements from adults of: “You teach in middle school? How can you do that?” It is a difficult age, one with numerous challenges for the individual as the child tries to find his or her place in the upcoming adult world. According to the National Council for the Social Studies or NCSS, almost 50% of 10 through 17 year olds are at risk for behaviors such as failure, drugs and violence (NCSS, 1991). A student’s experiences during this time will shape and mold the adult that they will become. Children spend more time in school at this age than they do at home and so the type of education that is offered to these young men and women is of the utmost importance. Will these future leaders come out of our school systems as educated, active participants of society or will we create adults who can recite numerous facts but cannot apply that information to make a difference? In a school setting, the job of citizenship education is often given to social studies teachers. It is during this class that connections with the past, present, and future are created and where students begin to understand their roles in society (Parker, 2001). Are we, as educators, doing enough to prepare our students for a global society? In today’s standards-based society can a global education component be successfully integrated into middle school social studies classes to prepare our students for the ever changing international experience? If not, what prevents educators from creating a global educational experience?
Before progressing too far, what is social studies supposed to be especially at the middle school level? According to Nelson (2001), social studies does not have a specific definition. However, social studies contains a mixture of numerous different disciplines including history, geography, economics, government, anthropology, psychology and many more. The purpose of this field is to prepare students to be good citizens (Nelson, 2001). According to NCSS (1991), the overarching goals of middle school social studies are four specific goals. First, students are to develop a sense of identity and who they are. The second and third goals suggest that students develop an understanding of right versus wrong as well as a concern for other individuals. Finally, NCSS suggests that middle school social studies helps students to develop a global outlook. This global outlook can be achieved in middle school by addressing the following topics: change, culture, economic systems, equality and interdependence. This is accomplished by looking to the world cultures of Latin America, Asia and Africa in the sixth and seventh grades and United States history in the eighth grade. NCSS also suggests numerous instructional methods for reaching the above goals such as:...

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