So You Think Texas' Social Studies Standards are BAD? How About Yours?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TeacherShelly, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Jun 23, 2010

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  3. hawkteacher

    hawkteacher Comrade

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    There's really only one thing that I agree with in the article and that is the ridiculously large number of events social studies teachers are expected to teach in one year. There is no way to cover it all and there needs to be some prioritizing done (determining importance anyone?!)

    For example, our fifth grade (American History) rarely makes it to the Civil War by the end of the year. Then, that's it for American History. I teach Ancient Civilizations in 6th grade, which is interesting, but not nearly as important IMO, as the history of our own country. There's so much more to learn after the Civil War! My sixth graders didn't even know what the Civil Rights Movement was when we started reading The Watsons Go To Birmingham.

    The rest of it, I really don't know how to respond to. The author makes it seem like there's something wrong with learning about and celebrating some of the greatest elements of our country: individual freedom and responsibility, capitalism, the free market, etc. The suggestion that students should learn about how humans are destroying the planet through climate change is irresponsible considering the fact that this question is still very much up for debate among scientists. And students need to learn about the unions - this is a priority in social studies???

    ETA: The more I think about the unions, I think it makes more sense for high school students to learn about the role of unions in our country. Sometimes my brain gets stuck in elementary and I forget how curriculum might look at another level!
     
  4. TeacherShelly

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    The issue, to me, is teaching a rosy view of America without any reality checks on the impact on each of us. It discourages critical thinking, for one, which is not necessarily a path to disagreeing with traditional values. One can consider the impacts American traditional values have on the rest of the world (and within groups here) without ultimately devaluing the values. It is just simplistic to teach that Americans are exceptional, America is exceptional, everything about America is superior to every other country, and if a person is not feeling singularly and exceptionally successful it is their own personal fault. Some people even add on that they should move elsewhere if they don't feel the exceptionalism. Social studies is just more complex than that.
     
  5. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Jun 24, 2010

    Absolutely! The problem with promoting exceptionalism is that it also tends to encourage ethnocentrism as well. And it makes for a dull class where students lose interest.

    For more information on this, I'd highly recommend reading books by James Loewen (Lies My Teacher Told Me)
     
  6. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    We should just have one big huge Texas bashing event instead of repeating it all the time.
     
  7. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    It's hard teaching so much in such a short amount of time and it's only going to get worse as years go by. What I wouldn't give to be a teacher in the 1800's as not a lot of history had been made compared to now, 2010 lol
     
  8. Soccer Dad

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    I support the Texas reform effort. Although there's questionable aspects, at least they're doing SOMETHING!

    We sugarcoat things and leave out important details. And history is CHANGED to appease certain groups. For instance, my American History text for my juniors claim that American society in the colonial era was a blended culture of Amerindian, African and European cultures---NO WAY! Almost everything in our culture is related directly to the British!

    Or what about the fact that the Europeans created the slave trade? Uh... NO! Of course, it was used by the Europeans, but they did not create it and they were not the only ones using it (like the text claims).

    Also, recent documents have proven that the Rosenbergs were spies and all the text says is that they were caught in a terrible time period of hysteria with faulty evidence and there's "reason to believe" it may be true....
     
  9. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    Soccer Dad, for the record I too support the reform. My comment was in sarcasm. Think it's perfect? Absolutely not. But I do believe it's as valid as other states' versions of "the truth". Texas HAD to get rid of the ridiculously liberal slant in our textbooks that we lived with for 10 years. We can't teach everything - not enough time by a long shot. Sacrifices are made and proprities must be chosen.

    Texas BOE held hearings to hear from many sides ( I hate to think of how much extra $$$$ that cost). However, when the liberals in our state don't get what they want, they all cry foul and make a big scene (JUST A BIG OL HISSY FIT).-- Just like when they all ran from the state house a few years back to another state because they knew the opposition's bill was going to pass. Talk about a bunch of babies. :beatdeadhorse:

    I am completely over this topic. Not all teachers are against this reform!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  10. Soccer Dad

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    In terms of New York, the standards are there but are low. The State totally changed the Regents system in the 1990s. Since, our standards are complete crap.

    If you ask any teacher on here from NY, they will share with you the horror stories of having blended classes of advanced students, average students and below average students. Before the changes, classes were based on tracks. When I was growing up, I thought the tracks hindered educational improvement and promoted division. I was wrong. Now that we abolished the track system, the smart kids get bored and become lazy, the average students slack off and most of the time is devoted to the kids that should really be taking the RCT exam instead of the Regents. (The RCT is an easier version of the Regents.)

    When I first saw the new standards for both American and World History, I laughed. I really thought it was a mistake. How on earth could history be so watered down? I will say, however, that our standards do cover the important stuff and help use finish the course better. American History, a 1 year course for juniors, starts at the Revolutionary War (I teach colonial American regardless) and ends with the Reagan Administration. However, there some questions post-Reagan and are very, very obvious. For instance, "Which Department was created Post-9-11?" a) HUD, b) Social Security, c) Dept. of Education or d) Homeland Security

    I'm still happy that NY requires state testing for social studies because many states do not. I'm shocked to see how many leave out history. I'm not big on testing, but I thank God NY has it. Without it, I know the teachers already doing the bare minimum would do even less!

    If you have time, compare the exam questions 1980s and post 1990s (the '80s saw a rise of "easier" questions and the '90s-'00s saw a rise of complete garbage).

    http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/regentsexams.htm
     
  11. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    SoccerDad, you said that without testing, a lot of teachers would not teach it. You said that you teach Colonial America even though it's not part of your grade level standards. I think you're on the right track, teaching important subjects even if they are not tested.

    My grade levels are only tested in Language Arts (reading and grammar, really) and Mathematics. I teach everything, though, and try not to pay any attention to the tests. I also teach social and emotional literacy, which is not on any test but very important.

    I posted this article, though, to see what people who are unhappy with the Texas social studies standards would think about their own state's standards if they examined them. Pot calling the kettle black?
     
  12. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    How does this site work? I thought it would bring up exam questions from the two time periods?
     
  13. Soccer Dad

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    If you click on a course, you can view the Regents exams each year under that course. You'll see that World History (1950s-on) became Global Studies (1980s) which became Global History (1990s),

    I just tried clicking on some of the links and found that they weren't working. However, some are. You must have popup blocker OFF because when you click on the exam year, it will pop up and you can view it.
     
  14. Soccer Dad

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    Actually, I don't think any of the links are working. The site must be updating or something.
     
  15. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    So you think substituting conservative bias for so-called liberal bias is better? Because that's what the Texas BOE decision is essentially doing.

    If you are referring to that episode when [now convicted felon] Tom DeLay was trying to ram through a redistricting/reapportionment exercise ahead of the Census year (when they are usually done in most if not all states) as a way to cement Republican political gain and gloating about it in a "might-makes-right" manner, you are guilty of the partisan political bias that you accuse your ideological foes.
     
  16. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    first of all I promised myself I would not get caught up in this SAME discussion for a 5th time - and I won't. just won't do it. I have never claimed that the BOE is the Lord and Savior for the Texas education system. However, to call them idiots and non-patriotic (as have been done here several times on prior posts) are RIDICULOUS accusations .It is obviously (as much as I enjoy being here and getting good ideas/feedback, etc.) that this site members' lean heavily to one side.

    As far as our state Dems: heck they threatened it again earlier this year. I just think its a temper tantrum my 2 year old would throw. They just dont have the backing to get things through in our state.
     
  17. TeacherShelly

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    With respect, this isn't that. The aim of this thread is for people OUTSIDE of Texas to examine their state's social studies standards with the same kind of attention as we've paid to Texas's. I'm sure as someone who clearly has had enough Texas hating, you might wish we'd just never bring it up again, but let this thread be what it is. A chance for people who disagree with Texas's change in standards to look at their own standards and see what they think. Make sense?
     
  18. hac711

    hac711 Companion

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    Jun 26, 2010

    In 4th and 5th grade, we got through the French and Indian War until right after the Revolution...so we got to cover about 18 years.... so sad.... testing was during our history time, so was review, make-up, pre testing etc... 18 years...my kids asked me what happened next as I was leaving the building for good...I stopped and said take a good look around you! what else to do??
    I will have to say though, as a history major, I really went into depth with questions and thinking outside the box...I was trying to make it quality since it definitely wasn't going to be quantity!!
     
  19. JackTrader

    JackTrader Comrade

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    Jun 26, 2010

    Not unlike the national Republican members of Congress who have basically been obstructionist but don't have the numbers to be constructive. End of political rant for now.

    I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree.
     

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