How Can Disciplinary Literacy Practices in Social Studies Help Us to Cultivate the Skills People Need for Life?

By Stacie Woodward

Social studies education should prepare students not just for college and careers, but for life—particularly, civic life.  All students deserve to leave high school with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that enable them to effectively do things like serving on juries, deciphering the platforms of political candidates, spotting fake news, and engaging in problem-solving and informed action to better their own communities.  

Perhaps now, more than ever, the experiences in social studies classrooms need to focus on building the critical thinking, problem-solving, and participatory skills vital to engaged citizenship. Thankfully, after years of marginalization of the social studies and the narrowing of the curriculum as a response to the demands of high-stakes testing, there is an emerging emphasis on shifting toward this type of powerful social studies education.