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Curriculum design has formed various debatable topics in various disciplines. These debates rage from the depth of a curriculum, goals, objectives, schedules and the time that such a curriculum should begin its enforcement. All these issues are hard to tackle. Experts and professionals in various fields have managed to tackle and solve this problem though in partiality. On its own, Social Studies has remained to be one of the disciplines less solved in terms of curriculum design. The curriculum of Social Studies is depth and diverse. Its sources and teaching resources are numerous and varied in kind with their various pros and cons. All these have expanded the problem of curriculum design in this field taking into account that the time allocated for coverage has remained fixed over ages. This has made the National Council for Social Studies (1998), believing that learning of Social Studies should be incorporated earlier than it is done currently. This serves to ensure that a learner grows socially and gradually in this field.
For ages, isolation of Social Studies from the entire system has proved to be the greatest undoing of our systems. To begin with, Social Studies were only made available to learners who proved capable of tackling problems and mastering issues in various disciplines, such as Language Arts. The so-called basic disciplines in the names of mathematics and languages have had immediate attention in learning institutions. This gives young learners the idea that Social Studies are not as vital as the other disciplines. Such approaches are undesired. Curriculum designers need to interconnect all the disciplines taught at tender ages with an inclusion of Social Studies (Hoge, 1986). This will solve this issue of late introduction to learners. This is achievable, for example, by using Social Studies concepts in Mathematics and Language Arts. This enables students to view the importance of the knowledge they acquire in real life situations. Coming up with such curriculum design might take time, but the outcomes are worth the time as Kathy Paris of the National Education Research Foundation argues (1998). Social Studies should no longer be viewed as an additional subject to learners, but as one of the major subjects.
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Using of textbooks is successful only under careful consideration and approaches. However, the same rich source of material might be the basis of the undoing in teaching Social Studies. The books follow the same structure incorporated in the disciplines. They are predictable, biased, boring, and sometimes full of irrelevant information. Social Studies need not involve structured assignments and questions that, if mastered the learner, assume the role of an educated being. Social Studies ought to incorporate the real understanding of the way learners interact with people and their surroundings. Its aim and goals ought to be solving the puzzle of what the learners encounter in their lives and not what they encounter in textbooks. The wide irrelevant information in textbooks, which is not encountered in lives of individuals, only adds problems on time and schedule. It makes designing of curriculum coverage a real mystery (Groce, 2007). Apart from undefined and irrelevant goals, the textbooks have a design that accommodates an assumption that learners have basic information acquired out of Social Studies class. In fact, this assumed knowledge needs an early introduction in schools along with other subjects that are deemed basic. Failure to connect theoretical ideas is also brought about by the shallow information contained in these books. This makes the books part of the problem than the solution. Therefore, students become more confused than earlier.
Teacher’s Prepared Social Studies Learning materials have contributed into the whole mess too. The materials are biased and offer inadequate knowledge. Human beings have areas of weakness in lives, which they tend to avoid or solve. This arguable statement is practical, when teachers prepare to learn materials for students. They tend to avoid topics that seem uninteresting to them. Knowledge coverage discriminates cultures that do not impress the teachers, thus leaving learners with shallow information in Social Studies (Gahan Bailey, 2006 ). This makes other sources better than teachers’ sources. However, two bad things are all bad. Comparison does not make either of them an option.
The credibility of the internet and other commercially published materials remains a puzzle. The internet has almost all the information needed. It is reliable and rich. However, the depth and countless information available are unsuitable to learners. Filtering the information becomes a daunting task (National Council for Social Studies, 1988). The same applies to commercially prepared materials. Though competition might encourage preparation of better reading materials, this might lead to the inclusion of information that is out of the curriculum.
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With no doubts, Social Studies face serious problems as a subject. Arguably, it is one of the most neglected fields of study. This problem has no single solution. It is achievable only through collective responsibilities of various stakeholders involved. The subject ought to undergo introduction to learners at the required time. This needs to be at the time, when other subjects are introduced to the learner. Unlike other subjects, Social Studies need the direct correlation of its content and world. People, culture, environment, and interactions made among these ought to be infused in mathematics, languages, and sciences (Armento, 1986). This gives the learners an insight of what is all about the world and its occupants. These problems are unavoidable while creating a better system - a system that solves the mystery of time, schedule, coverage, and goals of the social studies curriculum need an immediate attention.
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