Social studies classes should be the locus of middle and high school students learning about American society and the world, past and present. It is in social studies that students prepare for their role as citizens by studying history, economics, geography, and government. The opportunities for exciting learning in social studies are unlimited, since students can grapple with the great issues of our world: war and peace; democracy and autocracy; poverty; racial, class, and sexual inequality; prejudice; technological change; and corporate economic dominance.
NYU Steinhardt’s program in Teaching Social Studies, Grades 7–12, is dedicated to producing a new generation of middle and high school teachers who are equipped to take students beyond the world of bland textbooks and multiple-choice tests and to generate real student interest in history, the social sciences, and the challenges of active citizenship. Students graduating from the program are eligible for New York State teacher certification for grades 7–12, with an extension for grades 5-6.
Since history is the core discipline in the social studies curriculum of New York and many other states, NYU’s program includes extensive historical study to introduce students to global and US history and then enable them to develop an area of specialization, such as modern Europe, and complete advanced coursework and a research seminar (in small class settings). To build a cross-disciplinary understanding of society and civilization, students in the program take a wide range of courses in the humanities, social sciences, world language, the natural sciences, and mathematics.
The curriculum’s coursework in educational methods builds on this strong foundation in the social sciences and humanities. As a student develops expertise, for example in American history, his or her education classes examine ways to use this knowledge to teach the subject effectively to middle and high school students. Social studies courses will familiarize teachers with ways to integrate history, literature, and the arts and how to involve students in inquiry-based history workshops that engage them in analyzing historical controversies and primary sources. The program emphasizes how community studies and local history can involve students in major research projects that relate to their own lives and neighborhoods. In addition, social studies program teachers encounter the latest programs to foster political engagement via service learning and discover the most innovative methods and materials being used in social studies classes. Other education coursework instructs on how to manage student reading and writing problems and ensures that one enters teaching with a strong grasp of the special education and educational policy issues that affect schooling.
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