Constructivism and the New Social Studies: A Collection of Classic Inquiry Lessons (Charlotte, NC: Information Age, 2018)

Geoffrey Scheurman and Ronald Evans, Editors

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The New Social Studies refers to a flurry of academic and commercial activity during the 1960s and 1970s that resulted in the mass development and dissemination of revolutionary classroom materials and teacher resources. In science as well as social studies, a spirit of “inquiry-based teaching” filled the air during this time, resulting in the development of curricula that were both pedagogically innovative and intellectually rigorous. Constructivism and the New Social Studies contains a collection of classic lessons from some of the most successful projects of the era, providing a resource of exceptional ideas and materials that have stood the test of time.

These revealing artifacts are presented with commentaries from some of the original directors of major projects, including Edwin Fenton, Barry Beyer, and Suzanne Helburn. In addition to American and World History, groundbreaking lessons are represented in Economics, Government, Sociology, and Geography, including the Public Issues Series (Fred Newmann), The Amherst History Project (Richard Brown and Geoffrey Scheurman) and Teaching American History: The Quest for Relevancy (Allan Kownslar, Gerald Ponder, and Geneva Gay), and Man: A Course of Study (Peter Dow). With a Foreword by Jerome Bruner, the volume not only provides a resource of exceptional curriculum ideas and actual materials, it also builds a lucid bridge between the theoretical ideas of constructivism and the pedagogical principles of inquiry learning.

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The Hope for American School Reform: The Cold War Pursuit of Inquiry Learning in Social Studies (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)

The Hope for American School Reform: The Cold War Pursuit of Inquiry Learning in Social StudiesAs the issue of school reform grows ever more intense, it is imperative that we learn what we can from previous efforts. The new social studies was a 1960s attempt to transform the teaching of history and the social sciences in schools. With origins in the Cold War, the movement sought to develop critical thinkers through “inquiry” and “discovery.” Though it led to a veritable treasure trove of innovative materials, the “revolution” envisioned by its proponents never materialized. Engagingly written and drawing on previously untapped archival sources, The Hope for American School Reform offers an insightful perspective on current trends.

***Recipient of the 2011 Exemplary Research Award from the National Council for the Social Studies***

“Ron Evans has crafted what will surely become the seminal answers to the questions ‘Where did the new social studies come from and why should we care?’ In this important, carefully researched, and well-written book, Evans situates the 40 federally funded curriculum projects that together came to be known as the ‘new social studies’ in historical context, drawing attention to their conservative origins, the many ways in which they were pedagogically progressive, and the reasons why they did not have the long-term impact so many educators hoped for and expected. This well-researched and lively book is important for all social studies educators who seek to learn from the past in order to create a better social studies future.” —Diana Hess, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Ron Evans’ latest book, like his earlier works, provides a meticulously researched history of social studies reform written in a style that is accessible to both scholars and lay readers. His narrative of the origins and reforms called for in the New Social Studies along with the concluding comparison to today’s attempted educational reform movement, provide a cautionary tale about the motivations of politicians, reformers, and other political stakeholders as they attempt to change the direction of America’s social studies/history program.”
— Barbara Slater Stern, Professor, James Madison University