The Canadian Anthology of Social Studies: Issues and Strategies for Teachers – CASE; CLARKE (CSS)

CASE, Roland; CLARK, Penney (eds). The Canadian Anthology of Social Studies: Issues and Strategies for Teachers. Burnaby, BC: Field Relations and Teacher In-service Education, Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University,1997. 424p. Resenha de: BRADFORD, Kathy. Canadian Social Studies, v.36, n.2, 2002.

The Canadian Anthology of Social Studies, edited by Roland Case and Penney Clark, is an impressive collection of forty-one articles contributed by both practicing teachers and teacher educators from across the country. Although several of the articles have appeared elsewhere, many were written expressly for the anthology. Case and Clark use three major themes to organize this vast collection of information: Foundations; Ends and Means; and Implementation. More specific organization within each of the major parts provide further structure to the individual chapters in the book. In the Foundations section, the editors have included articles which discuss the need to develop and understand a ‘coherent vision’ of the social studies along with overarching approaches to social studies programs characterized as discipline-based strands (history, geography, anthropology, archaeology, law), concern-based strands (global education, multiculturalism, gender issues, peace education, environmentalism), and dimension-based strands. Case and Clark organize the chapters in Ends and Means around the themes of content knowledge, critical thinking, information gathering and reporting, personal social values, and individual and collective action. The final section, Implementation, offers chapters focusing on instructional planning, learning resources, and student assessment.

Three excellent introductory chapters offering different perspectives or approaches to foundations for social studies programs, challenge teachers to think about and determine their own underlying beliefs about social studies and encourage the formation of and adherence to a personal coherent vision. In Challenges and choices facing social studies teachers, Neil Smith uses vignettes of typical social studies lessons or units (the pursuit of factual content without understanding; hands-on fun without context; and student involvement in decision-making without benefit of developing decision-making skills) to identify common problems in successfully teaching social studies. Roland Case’s solo contribution to this section, Elements of a coherent social studies program, is a chapter which every social studies teacher should read. Case believes that every teacher should be able to identify a coherent and defensible vision of social studies that drives their teaching (p. 10). To encourage teachers to develop their visions, Case identifies three necessary elements which combine to form such a social studies program: an underlying rationales (social initiation, social reformation, personal development or academic understanding); educational goals (content knowledge, critical thinking, information gathering and reporting, personal and social values, individual and collective action); and organizational strands (discipline-based, dimension-based, concern-based) which determine the emphasis and content of a social studies program. Case provides insightful examples of how a particular subject of study may be approached differently depending upon the rationale, goals, and strands used to organize the unit.

Other chapters in the anthology also explore social studies issues from and for various theoretical perspectives, however, a major strength of this collection is the emphasis on practice and the many suggestions for implementing ideas and improving social studies practice. It is important to note that the suggestions for practice are all solidly based in theory they are not ‘keep busy’ activities, rather they are tools for improving learning outcomes and meeting educational goals. One such gem is Penney Clark’s Escaping the typical report trap: Learning to conduct research effectively. Clark offers a seven-step model, for use by both elementary and secondary students, to make the complex task of conducting and reporting on research an interesting and educationally useful experience (p. 195). The steps, which include how to formulate guiding questions, how to extract information, and how to synthesize information into an effective presentation format, focus not on the regurgitation of information but rather on the development and practice of skills.

Every teacher, student teacher and teacher new to social studies, whether at the elementary or secondary level, should acquire this book for her or his personal library. This book presents a wealth of information about issues in social studies across Canada. The reader should approach the articles in The Canadian Anthology of Social Studies as excellent introductions to issues and topics rather than as definitive answers to social studies teaching and learning. As the editors state in the Foreword, the articles in the anthology present a multiplicity of viewpoints and experiences[which]rather than compete with one anothercomplement and accentuate the features of the others (p. vii). The harmony and diversity of ideas in the anthology embody the essence of the social studies themselves.

Kathy Bradford – Calgary, Alberta.

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