The aim of society and that of its education system are intertwined. While the aim of education is explicitly stated in policy documents, legal instruments, and curriculum frameworks, it is tacitly woven into the selection and arrangement of content.
Social science content not only defines and validates societal aims, but it also has the capacity to provoke learners to critically examine them along the lines of universal values of social justice and environmental sustainability. While natural sciences help us develop technology and put it to use, social sciences help us study the impact of that very technology.
For very odd reasons, the idea of pursuing a branch of social sciences seems demeaning to a major chunk of the world population and is thus not acknowledged for its immense contribution. As the world seems to be engulfed in catastrophes – from devastating tsunamis to indiscriminate terrorism – people and communities are ceaselessly attempting to make sense of what is happening to them. This is where social science comes in as a lifesaver, helping us to comprehend human lifestyle and behaviour, while keeping in mind the conditions and needs of society.
Social science is a peculiar stream as it does not give you direct answers to the questions you have, and instead gives you answers to which you raise questions. Uncertainty, doubt, and skepticism are everything that makes the stream what it is. It is known to put perspective into people’s lives while definitely not being easy. If calculating electromagnetic induction is strenuous, researching social relationships and the complexity associated with it is no cakewalk.
While for many people the term “social sciences” may conjure up images of social workers or teachers, this is a gross misunderstanding of the range of roles available within this discipline, as well as the impact that it has on the wider world. In general, it focuses on the study of society and the relationship among individuals within society while covering a wide spectrum of subjects, including economics, political science, sociology, history, archaeology, anthropology, and law.
Facilitation of discussions and debates can help students think and introspect, improve communication skills, and empower them to write thoughtful answers after doing careful research on topics. They must also get under the skin of various historic and political characters through role play and discuss their actions effectively. Reading literature by eminent philosophers, economists, historians, etc., can help students gain interesting insights. Field projects will help students appreciate and apply their learning in real life settings. Creating civic sense and awareness, cleanliness drives, renovating and protecting historical sites, etc., can ensure that students become more sensitive to the requirement of the stream. They must be encouraged to watch credible documentaries, TV shows, and movies.
In some ways, good social studies teaching rests on the ability to tell stories well. For social studies, this story telling ability is grounded in the depth and awareness of the connective possibilities of the content. Helping students make new connections, to find challenge and meaning of the content is what excellent teachers do every day. They are able to do it because they understand in more than one way what they are teaching and are able to draw upon this knowledge to make any lesson an adventure for their students.
Social sciences is purposeful as it helps students understand human interactions that have occurred in the past, are occurring now, and are likely to occur in the future. This helps students develop and nurture values that will enable them to determine, for any situation, what the right thing to do is and how to go about it, especially in difficult times. It broadens horizons, adds perspective to our lives, contributes to social well-being, and definitely gives us no reason to demean those who pursue it.