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Social Studies Teachers’ Perceptions about the Nature of Social Studies

Author(s): Selahattin KAYMAKCI | Bahri ATA

Journal: Journal of Social Studies Education Research
ISSN 1309-9108

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 35;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: Social studies | Nature of social studies | Social studies teacher | Teaching approaches

As a course, social studies is taught in many countries and it effects the world’s educational system for decades. Considering Turkey, social studies has been taught officially under the name of social studies since 1968. It is taught three hours per week in the 4th, 5th, 6thand 7thgrades of the primary school. Social studies has a philosophic foundation and some teaching traditions. In this context some scholars like Fenton (1966), Barr, Barth & Shermis (1978), Morrissett & Haas (1982), Stanley & Nelson (1994), and Janzen (1995) did studies on philosophic foundation of social studies and they suggested some classifications. Review of literature indicated that Barr, Barth & Shermis’s (1978) classification is the popular one that includes three social studies traditions: citizenship transmission, social science and reflective inquiry. This classification has an importance role on the understanding and development of Turkish social studies education. Curricula developed in 1998 and 2005 stressed the place and the importance of citizenship transmission, social science and reflective inquiry traditions in social studies education (MEB, 1998; MEB, 2005a; MEB, 2005b). In particular, 2005 curriculum tried to use effectively social science and reflective inquiry traditions besides citizenship transmission within the context of constructivism (Ata, 2006). This situation creates a question: How social studies teachers’ levels of understanding, perception and usage status about social studies traditions. Indeed related literature revealed that there are some national studies on social studies teachers’ perceptions about the nature of social studies (Kozan, 2002; Doğanay & Sarı, 2004; Özmen, 2010). However, studies, which were done by Kozan (2002) and Doğanay & Sarı (2004), are out of date, because they were done before the last development of primary school social studies curriculum in 2005. Besides, Özmen’s study covers both social studies teachers and primary school teachers’ perceptions, so it reflects limited social studies teachers’ perceptions about the nature of social studies. With this in mind, it is believed that a determination of social studies teachers’ perceptions about the nature of social studies will contribute to elimination of these deficiencies in this area and guide to the studies which will be written in this issue in the near future.
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