Nelson promotes ethnic literacy with brief but keen historical accounts of the struggles and successes of minority groups in the United States. Sections on community studies, law-related education, geography, cooperative learning, and censorship are particularly well developed for the prospective teacher. Teaching strategies abound-inquiry, lecture, guided discovery, role-play, small-group decision making, case studies, action learning, games, oral history-and student activities are suggested throughout.
The wide net that Nelson casts over the field-taking in multiple perspectives on social studies goals, approaches, content, and instructional methods-may be both the strength and the weakness of this book. Despite Nelson's warning in the preface that the reader should expect outspokenness, what seems too often missing in the text is Nelson's professional point of view on questions that loom large in current debate about social studies: What is social studies? What should constitute the primary goals of social studies? What content is most worth knowing? What are the most powerful teaching strategies?
Nelson maintains that "social studies refers to the study of all aspects of the human endeavor" (43) and that it "comprises almost anything in the world that has to do with people's lives" (237). Such generalized definitions neither challenge prospective teachers' vague notions of the field nor help them shape new conceptions. What goals does Nelson regard as worthy, based on his wealth of experience? Nelson refers to Engle's theme of decision making as the heart of social studies and the three traditional views of social studies identified by Barr, Barth, and Shermis in the 1970s as "prime philosophical concerns," but fails to mention that all four are regarded as means of citizenship education. No discussion of teaching for or about citizenship is included in this text, except for the assertion that "map and globe skills...are the most critical to global understanding and citizenship" (282). Does Nelson believe that geography skills represent the most valuable content in social studies? That global understanding and citizenship are the most worthy goals to pursue?
And what about the best teaching methods? Nelson makes a strong case for the globe as key to children's conceptualization of geography, including the benefits of playing with the globe. In most cases, however, the labeling and minimal explanations of teaching strategies cloud the picture of what he believes about powerful social studies teaching. Is inquiry related to action learning? To discovery learning? How does decision making occur in small groups? What role do teachers' questions play in these strategies? Nelson squeezes questioning-both teachers' and students'-into two pages between chronology skills and oral history.
Finally, mounting research evidence that children's understanding of time and space may be constrained more by prior experience and instruction than by maturity calls into question Nelson's linear model, which identifies this ability as a function of age. It will be a bright day for social studies education when we take the research evidence seriously, thereby uncoupling the field from the dead weight of incremental history and expanding environments.
Ann V. Angell
University of Houston
Social Studies for the Twenty-First Century: Methods and Materials for Teaching in Middle and Secondary Schools, by Jack Zevin. New York: Longman Publishers, 1992. 412 pp. Hardcover. Reviewed by Terrie L. Epstein.
Jack Zevin's social studies methods textbook is a solid, lively text that is well-organized both conceptually and topically. In his introduction, Zevin acquaints the reader with the "tripartite perspective" around which he has organized the text. This perspective includes the didactic approach to teaching and learning (gathering knowledge), the reflective approach (analyzing knowledge), and the affective approach (thinking or thinking about ethics and values). The textbook is organized into the following five parts: definitions and rationales of social studies; contemporary contexts of teaching and learning; generic teaching strategies; approaches to teaching world studies, world history, American studies, American history, and U.S. government; and current trends in the social studies profession.
The strengths of the textbook grow out of its conceptual frame. By organizing the text around the perspectives of didactic, reflective, and affective teaching and learning, the chapters presented for each approach provide clear and useful definitions and examples. For example, Zevin divides the chapter on didactic teaching into three categories for promoting lower-level thinking skills: data gathering, comparison and contrast strategy, and drama-building strategies. He discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy and provides questions and activities for teaching students each skill. Similarly, in his chapter on higher-level skills or reflective thinking, he includes a section on teaching controversial issues and two unusual and creative sections. The first, "mystery strategy," encourages students to think critically by figuring out what information is missing from a problem or story, what possible pieces of information might belong, and what solutions to the problem are possible given the information provided. The third higher-level thinking skill presented, the "frame-of-reference" strategy, suggests ways to teach students to perceive a particular document, story, or event from multiple perspectives.
Integrating activities throughout the chapters and borrowing liberally from all sorts of sources, Zevin includes primary sources, map exercises, graphs, and charts organized around questions and strategies to illustrate the teaching methods. He also offers a number of problem-solving activities and simulations appropriate for secondary or college students. For example, in the chapter on organizing instruction, Zevin presents explicit rules and a step-by-step approach to using the simulation game "War and Peace." The exercise strives to enable students to "reflect upon the causes and consequences of conflict" by taking on the roles of leaders of various fictitious countries and addressing issues of foreign policy, negotiations, international declarations, and peace conferences. The activity is organized in a way that enables students to think about political decision making rigorously and thoughtfully.
The weaknesses of the textbook are found in the chapters on teaching the particular subjects of world studies, U.S. history, and U.S. government. Although the chapters on U.S. history and government include some useful activities, little is presented that goes beyond the teacher's guide of a traditional history or civics textbook. The chapters on world studies, while providing useful outlines for teaching the topic from a regional, case-study, or cross-cultural approach, are not much more than mere outlines. In addition, the chapter on assessment lacks any discussion of the alternative ways educators have thought and talked about evaluating students' knowledge and offers little on the burgeoning field of multiculturalism and its relationship to the social studies.
Nonetheless, I find this methods textbook a useful one and plan to use many of its activities in college and university level social studies methods classes. The clarity of the writing, the appropriateness of the activities, and its overall positive tone make this a good addition to the market.
Terrie L. Epstein
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Elementary Social Studies: A Practical Guide, by June R. Chapin and Rosemary G. Messick. 2d ed. New York: Longman, 1992. 245 pp. $23.95 paper. Instructor's manual with test items available. Reviewed by Patricia G. Avery.
I have worked with preservice elementary teachers for almost ten years and have found that some students enter social studies methods classes with an active concern for social and political issues and a strong commitment to social studies education. Most, however, begin the course waiting to be convinced that social studies-perceived as a compendium of dates, places, and dead white men-is relevant to the young people with whom they will work.
I don't know how many leave the course excited about exploring human relationships, perspectives, and values across time and space. Or how many will guide their students toward a critical inquiry of meaningful social issues, or ponder their role as citizens of our community, nation, and world. I do know, however, that our time together is much too short. Our work is greatly facilitated by course readings that introduce creative ideas, pose challenging questions, and stimulate thought-provoking discussions.
Chapin and Messick's Elementary Social Studies would provide my students with sound suggestions for using children's literature, teaching time concepts and map skills, and planning thematic units. The chapter entitled "Elementary Citizenship Education" would offer my students a framework for linking school, community, national, and global citizenship. Another chapter, "Language Arts in the Social Studies," would provide students with concrete ideas for using social studies themes to develop oral and written communication skills. The twelve lessons/units presented throughout the book, often accompanied by the authors' thoughtful reflections on their strengths and weaknesses, might raise some interesting issues for discussion.
My students would learn, however, that when planning instruction, "the most important [resource] is probably your textbook" (30). The authors list nine other resources or considerations, none of which include significant concepts or generalizations of the social sciences, the needs and prior experiences of the students, or enduring social issues. Students would learn that patriotic symbols and rituals, such as the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem, are "appropriate, even essential, elements of school culture since the activities create a sense of national identity and pride essential for young children living in this country" (135). They would not learn of the various perspectives on patriotism, nor of the critical role informed social action plays in a democracy. My students might infer from the discussion of controversial issues and current events programs that such topics are reserved for the upper elementary grades. They would not, however, be challenged to reflect on the inextricable link between controversial issues and the social studies, nor would they be offered a repertoire of strategies for approaching such issues.
I am perhaps most concerned that the text includes little explicit discussion of major social science concepts and generalizations, values, decision making, or social action. In their preface, the authors state that their "intention is to expose [the reader] to what is basic and specific to teaching the social studies in the elementary grades" (ix, emphasis in original). I believe that social science concepts and generalizations, values, decision making, and social action are basic to the social studies and, as such, deserve a prominent place in any social studies text.
True to its title, Elementary Social Studies: A Practical Guide would offer my students many useful teaching suggestions. I suspect it would be less helpful in terms of stimulating challenging and thoughtful discussions around content and issues that are central to the social studies.
Patricia G. Avery
University of Minnesota
The Challenge of Human Rights Education, edited by Hugh Starkey. Cassell Council of Europe Series. London, England: Cassell Education, 1991. 264 pp. $27.50 paper. Reviewed by Gregory L. Eddy.
The Challenge of Human Rights Education contains essays written by European and North American educators supportive of the Council of Europe's 1985 recommendation on "Teaching and Learning about Human Rights in Schools." Arranged into four parts by editor Hugh Starkey, the essays focus on human rights texts and documents, the stages of human rights education, contemporary social and educational policies, and precautionary conclusions.
In his introduction, Starkey sets the tone for the volume:
At best, human rights education leads not only to greater knowledge, commitment and resourcefulness amongst young people, and not only to greater justice within schools and classrooms, but also to a release of energy and commitment in the wider world, and to procedures of greater justice.
Such goals are familiar to social studies educators; human rights education should convey knowledge, values, and skills and should result in social participation.
In part 1, Peter Leuprecht compares the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man to the 1948 European Convention on Human Rights, and laments the limitations of both documents. Next, Starkey methodically analyzes the provisions of the 1985 recommendation and offers numerous helpful pedagogical suggestions. Finally, Margaret Branson's essay traces the U.S. human rights tradition as expressed in documents from the Bill of Rights to the Universal Declaration of Rights of 1948.
Part 2 features four essays that discuss human rights education from preschool through secondary school. In her chapter on preschool education, Martine Abdallah-Pretceille professes that human rights education is a "campaign" and argues that teachers must enter into "negotiations" with interested parties outside the school proper before any kind of meaningful human rights education can occur. Pauline Lyseight-Jones emphasizes that successful human rights education in primary schools necessitates modeling by teachers and a nonauthoritarian school environment.
In addition to presenting a sample draft curriculum statement for secondary schools, Jeremy Cunningham worries about the effect the national curriculum established by the British Education Act of 1988 will have on attempts by individual schools to address local human rights issues. Patricia Dye describes some active learning strategies for human rights education including simulations, computer data bases, and student projects.
Other chapters discuss the issues of teacher training, intercultural and multicultural education, the movement toward equality for women, and special needs education. A chapter on nongovernmental organizations provides an excellent source for student or school projects. The last two chapters, by Derek Heater and Ian Lister, are perhaps the most important for educators hoping to implement human rights education. Heater and Lister adeptly characterize the highly politicized atmosphere of human rights education and offer cautionary, useful advice for avoiding pitfalls.
The book does not include transcripts of most of the European human rights texts mentioned, although these are available elsewhere. Also, many of the references at the end of chapters are available only from European publishers. Although they may be difficult for U.S. teachers to locate, these materials provide a European perspective that could enrich current citizenship education efforts. Despite these limitations, this volume would be useful for curriculum planners taking on the challenge of human rights education.
Gregory L. Eddy