Welcome to the vast world of social studies! While I welcome all teachers to read this, I hope that it offers valuable insights to pre-service teachers who are beginning to see themselves in the field as a whole - meaning their entire selves as well as the range of subjects in the field itself. I think it is rare that a person enters this teaching licensure area with visions of specializing. One may not set out to be a historian or geographer, but - depending on the teaching assignments that arise, a particular identity may emerge. With this in mind, it is helpful to do a pre-assessment of one's dispositions toward the subject area.
What are the draws of social studies? Although there are certainly cases of people who want to teach and selected this field through a process of elimination, it is helpful to think about how this field appeals to one's sense of self and overall view of education. As both a parent and teacher, I want people teaching social studies who see the process of learning it as a vehicle. It is not a series of stand-alone facts; however, its value is in the way that it helps people to understand society, interact with each other, appreciate global diversity, manage resources, make decisions, and predict how the future might unfold.
Like the image I selected to accompany this post, the field of social studies represents a vastness that spans from history and its discovery of the past to psychology and the uncovering of human behavior. It has some precise aspects to it - and can look at the needles found on a single branch of one tree within a large forest - but it also seeks to keep the big picture in mind. What is visible on the horizon? How far away are those dark clouds?
Those who are in their burgeoning experiences in the field would be well-served to ponder their current identity as a social scientist. With a scope so large, there is so much ambiguity and so much room for varying perceptions. By having a sense of its connection with one's interests and educational philosophy, tracking the degree to which those goals are being accomplished becomes more clear. Additionally, the shifts that will occur, whether they meet pragmatic aims or are based on new sensitivities that arise, will be easier to identify as either a mirage - something that will disappear in time - or a lasting trend that redefines one's purpose as an educator.