Can changing social studies improve the education system?
Civics Alliance’s New American Birthright Curriculum Aims to Reinvent the Public Education System
At the end of 2021, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey of 17 countries with developed economies about how their citizens are divided politically, racially and ethnically. Perhaps it’s no surprise that America ranked her number one. But perhaps America’s divide has less to do with politics, race, and ethnicity, and more to do with the American educational system centered around these three categories that make up social studies subjects. maybe.
Since the 1960s, social studies has provided fertile ground for the so-called new citizenship. This new civic is commonly referred to as an “action civic” and is less about learning what it takes to be a good citizen of the republic and more about tackling social issues like climate change and gun control. .
Arguably, the public education system needs reform, and for David Randall, director of research at the National Association of Scholars, reform should start with social studies.
Randall is also Executive Director of Civic Alliance. According to its website, the Alliance is a national coalition of organizations and citizens dedicated to maintaining and improving civic education in America. This alliance is not just a group of educators and citizens calling for educational reform. It assembled a thorough social studies curriculum called American Birthright.
What are American Birth Rights?
“The Civic Alliance aims to promote all aspects of American social studies instruction by encouraging American state education departments and public schools to provide social studies instruction that teaches American students their inherent right to freedom. We want to improve,” said Randall.
The curriculum is a return to classical liberal education drawn from classical Western thought, from the ancient Greeks and Romans to American founders and thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. According to Randall, the civics curriculum isn’t groundbreaking. In fact, it’s not new either. It is nothing more than an abandoned education at the stake of the state.
“The education system has abandoned both traditional content and traditional teaching methods, and liberalism in favor of radicalism,” he said. pedagogy, the radicalization and softening of education since the 1960s, and, perhaps importantly, since the 1990s, even a minority of conservatives have all but disappeared from colleges and schools, resulting in liberal prejudice. turns into authoritarian radicalism.
“If we revive proper education, like America’s birthright, students will graduate from high school, be educated to be well-informed, educated to think freely, and be citizens of the republic without going to college.” You will be able to act.”
The American Birthright project started in October 2021, according to Randall. Since they were not attempting to “reinvent the wheel,” they drew their curriculum standards from previously proven sources, such as his Massachusetts Standards in 2003. To parents looking at the K-12 curriculum in her K-12 Model Standards for the Alliance, it may seem overly demanding. Unfortunately, this is the result of declining educational standards and therefore decades of student and parental expectations. Randall agrees that the curriculum is rigorous, but rigorous only in the modern sense.
“Our school in 1960 would have considered this pretty standard,” he said. “We’re just going back to the standards we had.”
As mentioned above, the goal of the Civics Alliance is to improve the teaching of social studies. One way of doing that is mentioned throughout the Model K-12 standards, and it eliminates pedagogy in education. Although pedagogy is defined as “methods and practices of education, particularly as an academic subject or theoretical concept,” Randall suggests that this kind of education benefits neither students nor teachers. .
“Focusing on pedagogy encourages teachers to teach skills rather than content,” he said. “When necessary, we reduce classroom time for learning facts, not just restricting how teachers teach. We do not emphasize the teaching method.”
According to Randall, the Civic Alliance has fairly ambitious overarching goals for the American Birth Rights Initiative for the next decade. That is to get at least half the states to adopt some or all of the curriculum. The project was just released at the end of his June and is already attracting interest. He said many state legislators and several private schools have expressed interest.
“Most importantly, there are now five state-affiliated organizations, all formed since the launch of American Birthright,” he added. “That’s what we want: a grassroots effort to push this forward to get public opinion in favor of America’s birthright.”
Public opinion on public education has not boded well for the last few decades. Gallup has been surveying Americans’ trust in the education system since his 1973. It’s down 30 percentage points since they started polling. There are many reasons why public education continues to decline, but from bad teachers to bad administration to bad students to bad curricula, Randall provides an effective cornerstone of educational reform to help shape the way American schools are taught. We believe that changing content is the path to success. The success Americans have long desired.
“Frankly, we want to provide a positive model for social studies standards to counter the radicals,” he said. “Indirectly, using improved social studies standards to demand improved textbooks, professional development, curricula, etc.
“American birthright alone cannot fix all education. But without reforming social studies standards, the rest of the educational machine cannot be fixed.”