Social Studies as a Means for the Preparation of Teachers: A Look Back at the Foundations of Social Foundations Courses

Mar. 11, 2014

Source: Curriculum Inquiry, Volume 44, Issue 2, pages 249ā€“275, March 2014

This historical study looks back at the early years of the social foundations of education program that originated at Teachers College, Columbia University, in the 1930sā€“1940s, and focuses on the sociopolitical, intellectual, and educational currents that helped bring it about.

Drawing on archival materials and published monographs by the field's original practitioners and later observers, this study situates the emergence of social foundations at Teachers College on the heels of the development of social studies in secondary schools.

The study suggests that many of the same rationales that undergirded social studies were applied to social foundations, with the belief that future citizens should be endowed with the capacity to solve contemporary social problems based on the wisdom of the ages, the realities of present-day circumstances, and the tools of critical analysis. In the end, social foundations was essentially a program of social studies for educators: the education school phase of social education writ large. Appreciating the shared origins and fates of these two educational enterprises can help us understand what may be done to revitalize social education in an age when it increasingly has become marginalized in schools and teacher education programs alike.

Updated: May. 04, 2016