"How do I encourage diverse learners to realize a greater understanding of the 'human experience?'"
The study of social studies encompasses many disciplines - history, government, psychology, economics to name a few. Each individual discipline takes a different approach but together creates an intricate web of realizing who we are as people both individually and collectively. It provides a greater understanding of our past, present, was well as impacts our future and perceptions of our world. It is through greater understanding of the "human experience", or knowledge of oneself individually and collectively, that students are better able to realize the primary purpose of social studies education. As identified by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the primary purpose of social studies education " ...is to help young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world." My rationale for choosing my compelling question is two part. The first, taps into my desire to build curiosity that drives life long learning and enthusiasm for learning within my students. I consider myself to be a life long learner, and I have always been curious about people and human nature. I want to pass this passion along to my students and encourage them to feel prepared and empowered to actively participate within the democracy and globalizing world which we live. The second part of my compelling question rationale taps into my recognition of the growing diversity of students within the general classroom. This diversity is broad and includes not only a mix of races and cultures, but a mix of learning abilities, learning styles, socioeconomic backgrounds, and experiences that my students bring to the classroom. If I am to promote an interest in life long learning and a greater appreciation of humanity and self for all of my students, it is imperative that diversity is embraced and that teaching and learning within my classroom motivates and engages all students. For these reasons, I chose for my compelling question to be "How do I encourage diverse learners to realize a greater understanding of the 'human experience'?"
Throughout my coursework in the NLGL program, I have had the opportunity to participate in many class discussions, projects, and readings that have helped build a greater understanding of educational theories, effective practices, content knowledge, and professionalism. This knowledge has provided me with many tools and insights that will allow me to become a better teacher and to develop practices that allow me to continually grow and change to meet the changing needs of students and my educational community. Throughout my studies, four key themes seemed to stand out regarding how to facilitate engagement among diverse learners in my social studies classroom. These are 1. helping students to make global connections, 2. using technology effectively as a tool for real world applications, 3. providing opportunities to develop and practice 21st century skills, and 4. infusing perspectives into the social studies curriculum. Together, these themes will help students construct learning that is applicable to their lives and the real world. These themes will also create a greater appreciation for their humanity and differences in order to promote unity among a growing diverse population and a growing global interdependence.