Social Studies teachers can play an important role in helping students best prepare for the web and social media changes/challenges ahead
Social Studies teachers need to push for the addition of a web/social media component to the Social Studies curriculum. This new strand would help students prepare for their future by learning to safely and effectively analyze and evaluate the growing tsunami of information online.
As technology and society undergo more and more significant changes, some might feel that history becomes less and less relevant. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Educational consultant Erik Palmer, in an article entitled Four Predictions for Students’ Tomorrows, states that despite all the changes occurring now and coming our way, a number of certainties will remain: 1. the internet will still be around, and 2. there will still be salespeople trying to sell us stuff. Just as Social Studies teachers currently help students “sniff out” falsehoods and inconsistencies, we can help students understand the purpose of all the sites out there and identify any biases.
Sure, Social Studies may not yet have the mechanical chops for this challenge. But, leaving internet and social media technology in the hands of any other department (Math, Science or IT) would provide students with cold technical knowledge without real context or appreciation for these powerful tools.
Social Studies is uniquely equipped for this challenge as it already encompasses the concepts of historical context, critical thinking, evaluating sources, media studies, research and communication, economics, social and technological change, as well as government and citizenship. This marriage of history and technology will not only help students explore the roots of technology, Social Studies can also show tomorrow’s leaders how to navigate and utilize technology in the most social, economic, responsible, collaborative and effective manner.
Let’s not wait for technology to try and make us redundant. Let’s get in front of this and ensure our students are really ready for the future.
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this issue!