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Why Is Social Studies Important? 8 Reasons To Study

Updated: December 7, 2023 | Published: May 23, 2020

Updated: December 7, 2023

Published: May 23, 2020


Social studies. We all have to take it, and teachers have to teach it. But why? What aspects of social studies make it so important that it is always included? Social studies is a discipline that includes humanities such as geography, history, and political science. Why is social studies important? Let’s explore why.

“The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.”

National Council for Social Studies

What Is Social Studies?

Social studies can also be referred to as social sciences. It’s a field which deals with human behavior, relationships, resources, and institutions.

Specific topics within social studies that are studied in school coursework include geography, anthropology, economics, history, sociology, political science, and civics.

Teaching social studies to students in classroom
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Aim And Purpose Of Social Studies

The main goal of teaching social studies is to teach students to become good citizens. We are living in a diverse society — one that requires knowledge of social studies to succeed. With a social studies background, children become adults that can participate civilly in our democratic society.

Social Studies In The 21st Century

Social studies connect students with the real world. In today’s interconnected world, students must be prepared to interact with people of all cultures and communities, and social studies prepares them for this.

The Importance Of Social Studies In The School Curriculum

All children who go through the school curriculum become something when they graduate. And no matter what that something is, they will need to interact with others from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Students must study how society works, and how people work in a society in order for it all to work once they enter society after graduation.

8 Reasons: Why Is Social Studies Important For Students?

Students learn skills through social studies that help them succeed in further education as well as life. Here are all the amazing ways learning social studies benefits kids and society together:

1. Better Reading And Learning

Social studies is one area in education where content integration is key. Students are given reading material that corresponds with the current learning topics. Giving reading materials in context helps students become better readers. They also become better learners because they are asked to use analysis, critical thinking, and writing to show understanding.

2. Citizen Responsibilities And Values

How can we expect young people to contribute positively to society, engage in discourse, and thrive in a democratic society if they are not exposed to the topics and aspects of history and life that made society the way it is? Students need an understanding of history, political science, culture, and all humanities to be able to understand why it is important to be a good citizen.

3. Cultural Understanding

Students should be exposed to cultures far beyond what they experience personally every day. Not every student has the opportunity to interact with other cultures on a daily basis. We need students to learn about, understand, and appreciate cultural differences if we expect them to have meaningful interactions with people of all backgrounds in the future.

4. Economic Education

Economics is a crucial part of social studies, whether studied on its own, or as a part of history, anthropology, or political science. By learning economics, young people understand how their financial decisions have an impact on their future, as well as the future of society.

University of the People student carrying social studies books
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

5. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a part of social studies — students are taught to evaluate others’ decisions and make connections between influences and circumstances. Young people get the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes through social sciences.

6. Real-World Understanding

Studying social sciences gives students an understanding of the real world around them. Students learn about places, cultures, and events around the world, what conspired to make them the way they are, and can make inferences about how the rest of the world works.

7. Political Skills

From social studies classes, students learn about government, political ideas, country economy and resources, and more. Students gain political skills by analyzing and evaluating existing systems and imaging the future of the place in which they live.

8. Respect History

History is what made the world the way it is, and it is essential that people study it in order to have an appreciation for and understanding of the way the world works. Learning about history is what makes it possible to learn from the past and plan for the future.

Making Sense of the World: Social Studies for Young Students

One of the reasons for teaching young people social studies is for them to be able to participate civilly in a democratic society. Children start as early as kindergarten to understand the world around them, and schools should follow suit and start teaching social studies concepts such as communication, critical thinking, and culture as early as possible.

Young student studying social studies on ipad
Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

Qualities Of Purposeful Social Studies

1. Meaningful

Social studies should be meaningful to students. Teachers should embrace the natural interests of students and plan topics around those interests.

2. Integrative

Integrating all aspects of life is key to a successful social studies curriculum. Not only should current events and other classes be integrated, but also aspects of daily life as well. Every moment is a teachable moment.

3. Value-Based

Key values of democracy are opportunity, equality, justice, and freedom of speech. These values should be echoed throughout all parts of social studies.

4. Challenging

Teachers can challenge children in social studies classes in ways they aren’t or can’t be challenged in other classes. In-depth critical analysis should be implemented — getting students to think and reflect will help them engage and challenge them to care about what’s going on around them.

5. Active

Get students active and engaged with debates, discussions, role playing, projects, and simulations. This is one area of school where kids should really get into it!

Teaching Teachers At University Of The People

Teaching social studies is a fun challenge, and is a way to really have an impact on the future of a generation. At University of the People, we teach teachers how to be the most effective and passionate teachers they can be. Even better, our degrees are complete online and tuition-free – meaning you can study wherever and whenever, without any worries.

So if you were wondering, “why is social studies important?” Now you have countless answers! Social studies helps students and societies be the best they can be.