Surveyed Teachers Speak Out

Originally posted on February 19, 2011 by Shennan Hutton

I’m devoting this blog post to the responses of teachers and others to the survey question about the amount of history instruction in their districts. Although the survey is not yet complete, preliminary results are that there is much less history-social science teaching in elementary schools than we would wish. Only 17% of the 325 respondents (so far) rated their district’s teaching of history-social science as superior, with five or more hours per week at the elementary level and a full year of history at the middle school level. 41% said that teaching was minimal or reduced (less than two hours per week at the elementary level, and less than one full year at the middle school level.) Others commented that middle schools teach a full year of history, but little or no instruction in history-social science takes place in the elementary schools of their districts.

Here are some of the comments:

I don’t know what actually happens in the elementary schools. What I’ve been told is that the amount of social studies taught in elementary school varies WIDELY based on the teacher and the time spent on Open Court.

The history-social science education can vary across the district. The greatest need is in the elementary school. Often history is overlooked in favor of language arts and math.

Our elementary schools don’t spend much time at all on history; the emphasis is on language arts and math. 

Our 7th and 8th graders take a full year of history each year, BUT it’s taught in a block schedule setting, so language arts often becomes the emphasis rather than history.

My district supports the importance of Social Science, but budget constraints hamper our efforts to teach it thoroughly.

[My] district is considering eliminating history from the 6th, 7th and 8th grade curriculum, to focus on Language Arts.

My school … has a rich and thriving daily program in all grade levels.

It depends on the proficiency level, in English, of the student, if they receive adequate history/social studies.

It is a travesty and I scold my colleagues who tell me they don’t have time to teach History-Social Studies. How are we supposed to raise a generation of intelligent citizenry?

Can’t anyone explain to them that reading analysis could be taught using social science curriculum?