For FAST, in particular, Social Studies provides a starting point for design thinking. The aim of social studies is to promote civic competence among our children as they, and the world, evolve over time. According to the National Council for the Social Studies, “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.”
Empathy creates purpose, which makes learning meaningful and relevant to students.
Students must learn to think as engineers and as scientists, but also, they have to think as global citizens. Children need to develop a worldview with an understanding of what ideals their forefathers and foremothers fought to obtain and uphold in order to become citizens who are committed to the values of democracy. The natural diversity of the FAST classrooms is a framework for students to better understand other cultures relative to their own and to better appreciate the problems of the world as they learn the STEM skills the world will need to solve those problems. One of the great challenges humanity has faced as technological advances have been made throughout history is the juxtaposition of the ability of technology vs. the good of technology; the ‘can we do’ vs. the ‘should we do.’ FAST believes this framework of civic competence is critical as we develop the next generation of scientists and engineers who will seek to use their ability for the betterment of man.
FAST will employ a variety of curriculum tools for social studies. The Harcourt Mifflin My World® curriculum will be used along with selections from the Socialstudies.org web site, which offers a free teachers’ library of planned lessons. In addition students will use current events as a starting point for social studies topics. Race-related unrest around the country, for example should be studied concurrently in discussions about the Civil Rights movement. Current events give context and purpose for students to dig deeper and find meaning in the past. The New York Times hosts a Learning Network to connect educators and to develop crowdsourced reading and research lists as curriculum tools for many current event topics.