History vs. Social Studies

history vs social studies

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. –George Santayana

A logical way to tell a story is to begin at the beginning, and go on until you reach the end. Any story makes less sense when learned in bits and pieces. The same is true with history.

What is History?

History refers to the study of the various events that took place in the past in the realm of the human world. They include the various countries who have ruled the world, the development of various civilizations across the world, the constructions and the contributions made in the course of time through several centuries. As a study, history aims to discover, collect, and interpret data or information from the past. This may be people or artifacts that serve as proof of the human record. History can be classified in many different ways: by period or time, geographical location, or by discipline. History can also be recorded (usually written) or non-recorded (oral history and tradition).

What is Social Studies?

Social studies refer to the studies made with an intention to promote social competence. Man is made to understand his responsibility to the society in which he lives. He is made to realize the factors that contribute to the growth of the society around him. The primary aim of social studies is to equip a citizen to make important decisions as a member of society. An individual citizen can make a huge contribution to either the growth or reduction of society where that individual belongs. Social studies comprise academic disciplines and stand-alone fields of study. This includes history, economics, political science, psychology, anthropology, geography, social science, sociology, archeology, communication, linguistics, law, philosophy, and religion.

History and Social Studies – A Comparison

The scope of history is to see where we come from and think about the actions of our ancestors while the scope of social studies is to make us aware of the society or the world in large where we live. Objectives of learning history include: fostering national feelings; developing international understanding, teaching moral principles. Objectives of learning social studies include: teach how to gather, use and interpret evidence, apply geographic reasoning, understand economics and economic systems.

A Classical Approach to History

A common assumption made by history programs seems to be that children cannot comprehend or find interest in people and events distant from their own experience. So the first-grade history class is renamed Social Studies and begins with what the child knows – first herself and her family, then her community, her state, her country, and only then the rest of the world.

This intensely self-focused pattern encourages the student to relate everything the student studies to herself, to measure the cultures and customs of other peoples by her own experience. If you begin your child with herself and only then move outwards, you can easily give her the impression that she is the center of the universe, and that history, which doesn’t directly coincide with her particular wants and preoccupations, is unnecessary.

The goal of a classical curriculum is entirely different. The student learns the proper place of her community, her state, her country by seeing the broad sweep of history from its beginning and then fitting her own time and place into the pattern. How do you study history from the beginning? Study it in periods – Ancient History (BC 5000-400 AD), Medieval/Early Renaissance (400-1600), Late Renaissance/Early Modern (1600-1850), Modern History (1850-Present). History should be taught chronologically and should emphasize all of human history rather than just American history. History should be taught using primary sources – real books and biographies.

Tour Invitation

You are cordially invited to attend Liberty Classical Academy’s upcoming All Access tour on Wednesday, November 8 at 8:30 a.m. or the Fall Open House on Thursday, November 16 at 9 a.m. For more information, please contact Nghi Anderson: admissions@libertyclassicalacademy.org or 651.772.2777.