Social Studies

In the next few weeks, we get the opportunity to hire a new social studies teacher. This process has led me to reflect on what a 21st century middle school social studies teacher should bring to the table. After years of learning facts and figures in history classes, most have evolved to having students focus on true enduring understanding of concepts that have spiraled through time. It seems though like we are truly at a point where the best teachers in this area are serving as tour guides each day. To get kids to love history, it seems to me that they have to truly experience the places and people that were the driving forces behind the moments that shaped our thinking. The students also have to feel as though that by accumulating this passion, they will be able to think and feel in a different way than those that choose not explore history. To do this, two things seem essential. The teacher must be able to process the multitude of resources available and efficiently get them in the hands of their students. Being timely with pictures, documents, and videos is the only acceptable path forward. The second piece that seems to be growing in importance is the teachers ability to link students to history experts around the globe through e-mail, Skype, and instant messaging. Students must realize that they do have access to the best thinkers on topics that they grow passionate about. Feeding these connections makes history alive in the flat world. Those certainly seem like big shoes to fill for our next teacher, but I wouldn't set the bar any lower because this is what my students' deserve.