Social (studies) engagement

I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Social Studies. I’ve always thought of that subject as a chore not like something I would walk into enjoying. I’m not saying this necessarily because I’m bad at social studies. I can learn about it and still be terribly bored. I’d like to learn about it, sure; but how does one present something that could possibly be gory and ruthless in regarding culture, appeal to
students, and at the same time not sugar-coat it to the point of bending the initial message trying to be presented?

This has always been a challenge for my teachers, I’ve noticed. With Science, teachers always have hands-on learning when it comes to different units. Electricity, you have circuits. With anatomy, you can dissect and learn when you’re touching the actual organ. Same thing goes for French and other languages. When learning about a certain topic, you can always tie it into the thing you’re learning about. Learning about food? Host a potluck and order only in French. Learning about animals? Go to the Zoo and only speak and point out the animals in French. You see what I’m getting at here?

Of course, there’s always a way. But the hard part is, how can teachers create engaging lessons on different cultures, such delicate subjects, without accidentally stepping over the line into something offensive? My point being, I’ve never had a teacher that really (I mean really) got me interested in what I was learning in Socials; and like what I said earlier, I think it’s particularly hard to do so considering all of the circumstances. I never really considered majoring in any Social-related topics in College/University for this exact reason.

However, if I supposedly did have to choose an area of Social Studies to focus on, I would probably choose Political Science. Even though I may not be generally interested in Social Studies, I do enjoy politics to some extent. Hypothetically, if I were to choose this topic, I would probably have to study a lot and work really hard to learn more about it, since I’m not really proficient in the field just yet. I know a little about politics, and so far, the little that I’ve had the chance to see has sparked some interest in me. I believe that the part that really just grabbed my attention was the mix of debatable and fact-oriented topics. It’s always been a struggle for me to decide what I enjoy more– the perfection of a straight fact, or the heat or an argumentative topic. All of the subjects I’ve touched on in Socials so far are either one or the other, right or wrong/I’m right you’re wrong. With Political Science, I get the best of both worlds. (for example, comparative politics AND international relations).

Something that has already helped build up my excitement, is when in class we talked about Christopher Columbus. The specific part I would like to point out is the part when  the government would give the first man to see the land a yearly pension of 10,000 maravedis for life, and how a sailor named Rodrigo saw it first. He saw it and then cried out to notify the rest of the ship, but then Columbus had claimed that he saw the light the night before, and Rodrigo never got the pension. This is a perfect example of how your position on the political food chain can encourage favoritism. (since Columbus was the caption of the expedition and all, his word could probably over-rule the rest of his crew’s combined)

The main reason that I think this topic would be a good fit for me is that I’m really interested in how Social hierarchy affects our government, and how it sort of ties in with social justice. Like I said previously, I don’t have a lot of experience with the political scene, so a lot of this is new territory for me. That being said though, this is an extreme anomaly. Since I have previously found zero interest in anything that I’ve previously studied in socials, I’m really excited to finally say that have.

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