When We Cut Science and Social Studies

Currently my district is proposing a new elementary schedule and while it has some great ideas in it, one things saddens me to no end; social studies and science would only get 30 minutes for one of them every day.  So when I had the chance to tell the school board president how I felt about the proposal, this is what I wrote to her:

The sample schedule being proposed, while its intentions are noble, I believe it is detrimental to our students’ development as knowledgeable global citizens.  As the world around us grows more test obsessed, our students have indeed become just numbers on a data wall.  We no longer discuss their passions, we discuss their deficits and how we will test them some more to bring them up to speed.  Yet the world does not create jobs for people who are only strong in reading and math, or even for students that are very good at taking tests.  It creates lives for people who are curious and knowledgeable in many things, that want to be a part of something larger than themselves. Yes, reading and writing are foundations upon which we rest all of our other curriculum, but science is curiosity and social studies is awareness in its truest sense; knowing ones place and where one fits into the world.  When we diminish our time in these subjects we are taking away the chance for students to discover themselves and their passion. We lose further sight of what school is intended to be; a place to cultivate ones interests, become well-rounded, and for learning to become a passion.  We cannot selectively focus on things that will be tested at the expense of things that will not.  I fear we will lose students interest and dedication if we go along with this schedule.  There will not be much room to explore, discuss, or even question things that fall outside of our scripted math, reading, and writing programs.  School continues then to be a necessary evil that all students must survive.  And that will show up in our tests.

I have done my part, now I can only hope that they listen.

5 thoughts on “When We Cut Science and Social Studies

  1. Pernille, I feel your pain. I teach 4th grade, and have struggled with less than an hour each day to teach both science and Alabama History every year I've taught except two. I actually blogged about it earlier tonight and was really excited just now when I saw your post. I finally decided that for now, my class would do only one subject at a time. It's not a perfect solution by any means, but my coworker and I felt like it was a necessary decision, given our programs and time constraints, and we're trying to make the best of it and do a better job with that one subject. Good luck to you!FarrahThinkShareTeach

  2. I'm so sorry. Since I teach HS science, I don't know much about what goes on in K-6 classrooms when reading, writing, math, literacy (those tested subjects, you know….) I always want to ask the people who make proclamations such as the one you describe exactly what resources are used to teach reading, writing, math? Why aren't reading, writing, and math taught using science and social studies? In the HS, we are constantly asked to teach those skills within our science courses; sometimes to the extent that make me wonder what the math and LA teachers do in their classes. Most would love to collaborate on projects, and the admins will lend verbal support to that idea. Scheduling constraints and time constraints get in our way…… I feel for you and hope you're able to find a way through this.

  3. Pernille, I couldn't agree with you more. While these subjects aren't tested like literacy and math here in PA (we do have a science PSSA, but it's the "easy" one), they are exactly what you said – the keys to many of our students' passions. The other thing so many teachers, administrators and school boards don't seem to understand is that these subjects aren't just about content. They aren't just throw away subjects that don't have big tests. Social Studies and Science are great ways to help kids get excited about and understand the purpose for and uses of the reading and writing strategies we learn during comm arts.Thanks for highlighting this point so eloquently. Fingers crossed that your voice is heard.

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