Teachers have always known that they have a duty to teach students, not just content. Most of the skills taught beyond the core curriculum fit under the umbrella of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). CASEL identifies five competencies of SEL: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision Making. While all of these competencies should be practiced in the social studies classroom, I want to focus on two:
- Appreciating diversity
- Respect for others
- Identifying problems
- Analyzing situations
- Solving problems
- Ethical Responsibility
One of the first problems that historians must address is historical viewpoints. Whose point of view has been documented? What is the motive behind choosing a certain perspective? Do we only have the story of those in power? Whose story is missing? Have we considered the perspective of others who may have a different gender, ethnicity, culture, or socio-economic status?
Social studies teachers can teach Social Awareness by having students consider alternative historical perspectives. What was the Native American perspective on the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War? How did the term “God-given rights” make them feel? How did enslaved people feel? Did they think that their lives would get better or worse if the colonies won?
By practicing empathy toward those whose history has not been traditionally emphasized, students learn to fathom the rich fabric of human culture and to respect those who may have had different life experiences. Social Awareness is vital to a well-rounded view of history and for appreciating the diversity of culture within the United States.
Continue reading the rest of this blog at K-12 Talk where it was originally published.