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National Council of Social Studies

The National Council of Social Studies was founded in the United States 1921 to encourage social studies education and social studies lesson plans throughout the country. According to the organization, social studies is an integrated curriculum that promotes civic competence by teaching social sciences and humanities. Since civic issues can include a wide range of subjects, the NCSS might also advocate for improved educational curricula in health care, mathematics, crime, foreign policy, sociology, history, and other subjects often taught in public and private schools in both primary and secondary classrooms.

The National Council of Social Studies is primarily concerned with education in America at levels K-12. To improve civic understanding at all grade levels, in 2010, the organization published its National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies: A Framework for Teaching, Learning and Assessment. The curriculum discussed in this publication focuses on ten themes that all social studies programs should include in their classes.

NCSS often works with like-minded groups such as the Michigan Council for the Social Studies and the Middle States Council for the Social Studies.


Nation Council of Social Studies Standards

National Council of Social Studies

The National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) is responsible for a national curriculum in the field of social studies. Social studies is generally a study of culture, taught in elementary education schools. The NCSS is responsible for designing a youth that is aptly educated on the cultural diversity of our world and the United States. In order to better understand their goals, the NCSS developed National Standards for social studies with 10 themes in mind. The 10 themes that are a part of the national curriculum standards for social studies are:

  1. Culture
  2. Time, Continuity and Change
  3. People, Places and Environments
  4. Individual Development and Identity
  5. Individuals, Groups and Institutions
  6. Power, Authority and Governance
  7. Production, Distribution and Consumption
  8. Science, Technology and Society
  9. Global Connections
  10. Civic Ideals and Practices

Each area addresses the study of culture and the diversity found within a culture.

In looking at each of the 10 themes of social studies developed by the NCSS, it is easy to understand why “culture” is listed first. Culture create, imitate, share and adapt to a set of behaviors, traditions and values of a group of people. Cultures change over time and through observance of these changes, one can witness the evolution of the complexity of cultural systems. Time, continuity and change are important to study for social studies, as human history is revealed within the experiences of groups of people through patterns of change.

Cultures and Social Studies

Studying people, places and environments allows students to understand the relationships between various cultures and the physical world. How the physical land and the environment helps shape a society is revealed through geography, regional studies, and world cultures. And beyond the collective, the individual development and identity of a society is shaped through each person and their own influence on the collective. The National Council for Social Studies stresses that social studies programs “should include experiences that provide for the study of individual development and identity.” Furthermore, the relationship between individuals, groups and institutions reveals the sociology of a group as their political and economic organization influences the daily affairs and long-term direction of a society. Civic competence through power, authority and governance can blossom to create a strong society or a society that is in shambles with poor leadership.

The NCSS includes curriculum on the economic and technological aspects of a society also. Production, distribution and consumption are all part of a societies economic health and should be studied by students to understand local and world economies. Likewise, science, technology and how they influence society is particularly important as the global nature of these areas of study has effectively shrunk the size of the planet to make everyone interconnected. Global connections have accelerated over the past 20 years and the local, national and international world trade lines have blurred and expanded.

The last area of study listed in the 10 themes in curriculum standards set forth by the NCSS is civic ideals and practices. Teaching students how civic ideals are an essential part of democratic functioning for the common good of a society is an important goal of the NCSS. Looking at the United States and how our government reflects the promotion of responsible citizenship is paramount among the social studies goals in schools across the nation.