This post is half rant half research article review. This week I set the stage with an epiphany about why some teachers love teaching social studies, while others do not. Next week, will be more serious research and less punk rock.
I write this blog because I feel like I am a good teacher. I actually feel I am a damn fine teacher, but I’m pretty sure I should keep that to myself. People find overconfidence annoying.
Other things that annoy teachers are things they don’t understand but are expected to teach, or worse yet, maybe they are things they HATE from their personal life that they are forced to, or simply decide not to teach.
I am always cognizant of one of my first experience observing a teacher for my undergrad. Our job was to go in and see the methodologies the teacher employed to teach in our core areas of focus, mine being social studies.
Mrs Petuna told me straight up she didn’t like teaching social studies. She talked about how she did it, but more or less begruguingly. She liked math and science. She also was very good at both.
I was amazed at the ease and dexterity she could employ while instructing her students in both. Her love of the subject and depth of content knowledge allowed her to easily extend the learning of some kids, while supporting others who were struggling. The question I had, was, how could someone so smart and talented not be interested in a subject that is clearly so essential to our students learning? How was she not moved by the stories, the objects, the places, the wars, the struggles for freedom,and the facinating cultures that roam our planet? How could a smart person not like something I ( a futurte damn fine teacher) liked? Simple: she just dosen’t like it. Or that was how she felt.
It has taken a long time but I think I finally get it. In the past, I myself hated math. I had two math teachers in high school. Neither was as attractive or fun to talk to as the red head who sat behind me. They almost never talked about the Sex Pistols, or how much a jerk Regan was. They were always correcting my behavior and giving me bad grades. I hated math!
Now I don’t know who was Mr. Grant for Mrs. Petuna but I am guessing there was a pretty good reason why her Mrs Nesbit instilled in her, at best an ambivelance for history and social studies, or her own preferences got in the way with her connecting with the subject matter. (See redhead above)
The point is there are many reasons that people don’t connect with a certain subject, grade, or level of education. I have been trying to understand from a research perspective why teachers either don’t like teaching social studies, or what gets in the way of us teaching it well. I will happily say that what I am seeing is that many of the reasons are not maliscious, but sometimes really good people do stupid things. (myself included!)
So next week we will look a little deeper into why people don’t like, feel frightened, or just overwhelmed by how to teach social studies.