The Inquiry Design Model – Conceptual Principles: Promote Literacy Practices and Outcomes

As someone employed in a social studies field, you are aware of how studying one of these disciplines is often discouraged, undervalued, and even, the butt of jokes.

AND sometimes the attacks come from people IN social studies-related fields. For example, in April, Kentucky’s Lieutenant Governor discouraged students from studying history. This is just one example of someone in politics discouraging studies in the humanities and social studies. Indeed, it seems that the social studies are under attack, as they are not perceived to be the subjects that lead to lucrative careers.

Recently, the Los Angeles Times printed an Op-Ed defending the study of history, highlighting the value of the skills being taught in these classes. I won’t rehash the entire LA Times article (I DO encourage you to read it!) The crux of his argument is that the humanities help create critically thinking individuals, who do quite well in the long term across many different career paths. To be able to do history, means one can analyze and interpret in consideration of larger contextual forces, which helps ready students for tackling the issues they will encounter in college, their careers, and in their civic lives. Sound familiar?

This article was very well-timed, as I had already planned to write about the C3 Instructional Shift: “promote literacy practices and outcomes.” Though the social studies share the responsibility of fostering literacy skills, this instructional shift is referring to the particular literacies of the different social studies disciplines. History does not bear the entire burden of this, as all of us know. Literacies, or the lenses through which we assess a topic/issue, vary between the social studies disciplines. Being able to think geographically, economically, politically, and historically require different skillsets. A great visual of this is in the C3 Framework – the concept of “liberty” is approached by four separate disciplines. They certainly overlap each other, but nonetheless reflect distinct approaches.

Effective instruction in the social studies equips students with these disciplinary literacies. It also means you are providing students with the opportunity to conscientiously address these different lenses—they can recognize that there are a myriad of ways to approach any topic. Ultimately, fostering their desire to seek to understand, rather than to determine “the answer.”