Social Studies

Taming “Issue Investigation”: Singapore Secondary Social Studies Teachers’ Accounts of Challenges Encountered and Strategies for Coping

"The upper-secondary Social Studies (SS) syllabus (Express/Normal-Academic) released in Singapore in 2016 introduced an inquiry-based component called “Issue Investigation” (II). Given the relatively recent nature of this introduction, so far there has been little research on II. Drawing on a small qualitative study, this article reports on some of the typical challenges experienced by Singapore SS teachers in implementing and enacting II, as well as the coping strategies they developed. According to these teachers’ accounts, II was from the outset hindered by an exam-driven pragmatic attitude prevalent in Singapore schools; whereas specific enactment challenges included the II’s (perceived) overwhelming scope and depth, time constraints, and deficits of certain skills or preparedness among students and teachers. Faced with these challenges, teachers developed broadly two types of coping strategies—simplification and “piggybacking”—to tame II by making it manageable, both for the students and for themselves."

Evolution of the Primary School Social Studies Curriculum in Singapore: From ‘Moulding’ Citizens to Developing Critical Thinkers

Conceptual Teaching in Primary Social Studies: Teaching the Primary Three Reader,“Making the Little Red Dot Blue and Brown” in a Conceptual Way

"This paper looks at what conceptual teaching is about, the differences between conceptual and traditional teaching and the advantages of conceptual teaching. Different deductive and inductive approaches for teaching the big ideas of subject matter, that is, the concepts and generalisations, are described. The paper also focuses on the teaching of the primary three social studies reader entitled, “Making the Little Red Dot Blue and Brown” using some of the conceptual teaching approaches mentioned. The paper concludes with the importance of teacher subject matter knowledge in conceptual teaching."

Learning about Issues through Discussion in the Primary Social Studies Classroom: A Shared Inquiry Approach

"This article looks at how primary school children can learn about issues in their social studies lessons through discussion. It first spells out the importance of introducing issues in the social studies curriculum for the development of students to be informed, participative and concerned citizens. It focuses on the selection of suitable issues for primary school children and discussion as a pedagogy for shared inquiry to help teachers achieve academic understanding and citizenship outcomes for their learners. The Walsh and Sattes’ (2015) framework for quality discussion is described as a useful guide for teacher planning and implementation. Research findings on teacher belief and practice of using discussion of controversial issues and the implications on teacher professional development are also discussed. The article concludes with how to be skilful in the facilitation of discussion of issues for shared inquiry."

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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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