Elementary social studies, which seeks to instill in children the principles of democratic citizenship and the core values of social responsibility, has an important responsibility in U.S. classrooms. Yet, to achieve these goals, elementary social studies must overcome a number of challenges. Social studies lessons are marginalized in the school day, and critics complain these lessons lack disciplinary rigor and focus. In addition, scholarship in the field is under-funded and under-researched.
A History of Elementary Social Studies: Romance and Reality recounts the history of elementary social studies in the United States, beginning with its mid-nineteenth century antecedents. The book reflects on the global and national issues that influenced the origins and development of elementary social studies. This history identifies the sources of many problems in contemporary social studies education. It explains why one particular approach, the expanding communities, has thrived in elementary social studies. It also highlights imaginative, rigorous alternative pedagogical approaches that may offer direction for reformers of social studies education. The volume can be used in courses in the history of education, curriculum studies and curriculum theory, and elementary social studies methods.