Soares, L., & Wood, K. (2010). A critical literacy perspective for teaching and learning social studies. Reading Teacher, 63(6), 486-494. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.
Soares and Wood examine the growing problem in the American society of students not knowing how to critically analyze what they read. The article mentions how to address social issues by proving the global importance of knowing how to think decisively and then proving why it is so important to teach students how to read critically for themselves. To ground their opinions, the authors researched several texts written by educators for their evidence. The authors based the majority of the article on Ciardiello’s five themes for teaching students how to read social studies material. The five themes are examining multiple perspectives, finding an authentic voice, recognizing social barriers, finding one’s identity, and the call to service. Soares and Wood conclude the article with the resounding thesis that the best place for students to learn how to think critically is in the social studies classroom. However, it is up to the teacher to teach them how to think for themselves.
I share the strong sentiment that Soares and Wood have for intellectual thinking in social studies, but I disagree that it exists as a problem solely in that field. While teaching at a public school, I noticed a dearth of understanding in all subjects. Improper grammar abounded, and students tweaked confused eyebrows at my literary allusions. Do students really not comprehend the story of Romeo and Juliet or are we relying on Gnomeo & Juliet to teach the famous old Shakespearean tale? Society is being dumbed-down and the fault lies in the classrooms. Teachers are often not fully qualified for the highest calling of all: training the next generation. But teachers are not the only ones to blame. Students are failing to work at their studies. The Protestant work ethic which this great nation was founded on is disappearing with alarming rapidity. Who will be the intellectuals of the next generation? With a failing majority in many public schools, America is setting herself for a very terrifying future.
– Hannah S. Bowers