Lifelong Inquiry and Informed Civic Action: Preparing Students for College, Career, and Civic Life

AHA Session 100
Saturday, January 4, 2020: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Morgan Room (New York Hilton, Second Floor)
Lawrence Paska, National Council for the Social Studies
Tina Heafner, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
India Meissel, Lakeland High School

Session Abstract

This panel is coordinated by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). It features NCSS leaders in a facilitated conversation about the current expectations and needs of high school students upon graduation, as they enter college and consider further study (and possibly a career) in one of the social studies disciplines.

In 2013, NCSS published the College, Career, and Civic Life (“C3”) Framework for Social Studies State Standards. From their unique professional perspectives representing the various teaching and leadership roles within the social studies, the panelists will share strategies for using the C3 Framework as a foundation for setting outcomes and expectations of all students in social studies classrooms by high school graduation. Panelists will discuss how the NCSS approach to inquiry (the C3 “inquiry arc”) prepares students for college. What skills does this type of inquiry promote that translate to effective learning practices in higher education?

The C3 Framework is currently implemented in many districts and states nationwide, and organizes social studies instruction around models of inquiry and outcomes of informed civic action for all students. Yet, the C3 Framework’s overall implementation is fragmented across the country, and the C3 Framework remains one of many resources consulted by states and districts in their own social studies standards revision process. A transition from traditional practices to inquiry-based models of social studies instruction often requires a major investment in professional development, instructional resources, communications, and time to occur comprehensively. Yet these critical investments are often not made systemically, and social studies competes with other subject areas as an instructional priority.

Through this discussion, particular attention will be paid to the “third C” (civic life) that all social studies educators addresses. How is “civic life” the linchpin for college and career readiness? What does civic learning and civic engagement look like to students and educators? In 2018, NCSS established a new vision that sets the tone for social studies education moving forward: “A world in which all students are educated and inspired for lifelong inquiry and informed civic action.” How is preparation for civic life situated in students’ knowledge and skills in studying history and in practicing inquiry? Taking informed action, the embodiment of engaged citizenship, begins with a deep understanding of the past and its relationship with the present, which makes history the bedrock of civic preparation. Inquiry guides students to think critically about time, continuity and change as well as their roles, participation and responsibilities as agentic, cultural beings in an interconnected, global society.

The panelists will conclude with recommendations to transition both the national conversation and resources around high-quality social studies instruction toward an inquiry-based approach resulting in informed civic action. The discussion will provide strategies for structuring inquiry to support historical thinking and student learning of historical content.

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