As the world grows increasingly contentious, education for citizenship demands greater attention. Yet at this perilous juncture, social studies has neglected to take up the task of preparing citizens in a democratic and global society. Social studies has become increasingly fragmented and isolated by disciplinary foci that fetishize academic pursuits over broadly social purposes, precisely what Dewey warned against and which represent but a small portion of its functions. The academic-only social studies education has created a temporal disconnection that affirms the preparation for future life rather than, as Dewey preferred, the school as life itself. Dewey tasked the school with providing a context for social intelligence, power, and interests. When subject matter, like history and geography, is approached from a social perspective, it is viewed as expressing social life and affecting social development, not only as an academic end unto itself. We draw from Dewey’s theory of social learning an intention to reorient social studies education in ways that point to the future, engage diversity toward common goals, and ultimately expand the social power of school subjects so that each is in effect a form of social study.

Available for download on Tuesday, May 25, 2021