Socials Studies and My Place Within It
- Where are you (with respect to social studies)?
I’d like to think I’m fairly advanced in the general area within social studies, with some fields within it that I’m more knowledgeable in and others where I’m interested to learn more about. Socials has always been my favourite subject in school, and I spend a considerable amount of my free time pursuing more knowledge in the area. I’m particularly interested in history, and political science.
Other subjects within the realm of social studies what I am not as learned about include, economics, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy. Throughout my time in school, these subjects have never been mentioned often, let alone taught in detail, so I simply don’t know as much about them. Philosophy in particular does intrigue me because of its incredibly ambiguous nature and how it’s found its way into the mainstream in a world where people are constantly searching for objective answers.
- Where are you going?
In Socials 9, and high school overall, I look forward to continuing my relationship with history and beyond. Now that I’ve learned a basic amount about history and politics, I want to dive deeper into the areas, and not just learn the facts, but the ideologies behind them. This is where I feel philosophy will become a main passion I will pursue along with the aforementioned topics. Of course, I definitely want to explore the other topics (economics, sociology, anthropology) as well.
My future life (or what I envision it to be right now) also includes social studies. I am looking to get a degree or masters in history. In the future, I also want to be involved in the area of politics, whether it be locally, provincially, or federally.
- What interests you about this topic? Why? Examples?
History and politics go well together because one clearly influences the other, and vice versa. I taught my class last year a full course about Canada’s Parliament, and I follow the House of Commons and the current United States presidential election very closely. It’s uncanny to see how history, no matter the circumstances, will always repeat itself. The only hard part is finding out the connections. As American author Will Durant writes, “So the story of man runs in a dreary circle, because he is not yet master of the earth that holds him.” However, accepting this cycle of fate is not productive. Instead, we must find ways to learn from our mistakes, or at the very least acknowledge that the connections exist, if we are to not involuntarily throw ourselves back into the endless continuum.
- What challenges you about this topic? Why? Examples?
When I’m reading long timelines and evolutions of anything in general, I find it difficult to resist the urge to skip directly to the 19th and 20th century parts of the book. It’s definitely easier and more engaging to read the more modern stories because they are more relatable and simpler to imagine. For example, I was reading a book about the development of fencing, I forced myself to read the chapters where the general time period was the Roman Empire and early Middle Ages. Those parts, while crucial to how the sport changed from an actual part of a battle to more of a trained bout, simply weren’t as interesting as the passages where the author details Napoleon and Mussolini being trained swordsmen. I believe that as I begin to read more sophisticated works and improve my connection-making skills, it will get easier over time (though not in the foreseeable future).
Yes! I know that [insert fact that should be interesting but really isn’t] was important to how [insert topics] development, but WHY, and more importantly, WHY SHOULD I CARE?
- What have we done/read/discussed so far that provides an example of the main or 2nd focus?
Over the past few weeks, the class has been reading the first chapter of A People’s History of the United States by the famous Boston University professor Howard Zinn. It focused on the “truth” of Christopher Columbus’ mission, as well as Cortes and other early settlers before arriving on Zinn’s primary thesis statement: is human suffering (usually in very large groups and almost always the minority) necessary for human progress? The whole class was highly interested in his engaging and provoking writing style, and I also found it incredibly engrossing.
First of all, the book is about history, and politics to a certain degree. It also introduced a few philosophies and ideologies that I enjoyed discussing with the class, and touched on economics and anthropology. This book has introduced me to a new level of thinking, away from the fact-only textbooks of middle school, and more towards what the real world is like: two contrasting points of view, with members on both sides insistently stating that their idea is right. Zinn’s thesis statement is directly related to my interests about socials: the past, and how it affects the present. Do people need to die so that we can be where we are today? Do those people not have stories that we need to consider as well? These questions are timeless, which has also gotten me more excited about older history. Though Columbus’ (and others’) voyages can hardly be considered “ancient”, they didn’t interest me all that much – until I started reading Zinn’s storytelling. He keeps everything in perspective, often adding his and other intellectuals’ interjections strategically to subtly get a point across.
Through the first handful of socials classes in high school, I’ve been able to indulge in a satisfying blend of topics: ones that I know and love, and others that I’ve never really looked into before. I definitely look forward to starting the journey that socials has to offer!