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Austin Rogers

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What are broad (or specific) topics that a current event/social issues/ high school course cover?

I've started a class at my high school and will assist in teaching it, and I believe that the best ideas come from cumulative thinking. So any ideas from the TED community are greatly appreciated.
Good background for this is that it's an elective course limited to juniors and seniors, and the teaching style is heavily subjective to Socratic seminar to create an appreciation for all ideas and enforce a deeper connection with a feeling of democratic equality.

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    Jun 27 2013: So many people have done the trail blazing for you in designing and teaching courses of this kind over the last five decades at least!. There is likely an online community of social studies teachers who share curriculum resources in this area.

    I would also look at the curricula described online for International Baccualaureate as well as at the websites for some of the well-known private high schools

    Here, for example, is the high school history curriculum at the Lakeside School, where Bill Gates went: http://www.lakesideschool.org/ftpimages/252/download/History.pdf
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    Jun 27 2013: when you say class, is this a class for credit? Are you a high school teacher or a student? In other words, it's not something like a club that meets during lunch hour. The question matters cause the emphasis would be different.

    An easier way to approach this question is for you to tell us what you've been thinking about teaching in the class, cause you've already thought about this and have the jump on us, and we can say if we like your proposals or could add to them. We could help discover if you have the biases you mention, maybe you're fine and not terribly beset by biases.

    What would I teach in such a class? I might start by asking the kids what they think are the issues that matter most in the world today, and then start playing with them, helping the kids explore whether those are really the most important issues, or whether others matter more. It gets the kids talking to each other, too, and gives the teacher a chance to know his class.
  • Jun 27 2013: This question seems too obvious. Cover the important topics.

    Also, discuss how the media pick which stories to cover, and why they very often do not cover the important topics.
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      Jun 27 2013: I guess the topics are , or can seem, obvious due to knowledge of 21st century issues. However the issue when trying to plan a syllabus is what ideas and topics deserve more in depth investigation, because nearly any topic that comes to mind has the content to fill a semester if really investigated. The issue really rises when trying to decide which topics demand more than others, then deciding if those topics can be covered while still painting a relatively broad picture.
      So the question really ought to have been what topics MUST be covered or what are the most important ones?

      Because obviously i would have a strong bias towards my own interests.
      • Jun 27 2013: It appears that you are asking for specific topics, and I find that confusing. I understood that this course would be discussing CURRENT events, meaning that you would be picking and choosing from very recent media stories. You can hardly expect us to predict what topics will be in the news next semester. I can fully understand why you would be concerned about bias toward you own interests, but it is also part of your job as a teacher to offer guidance about what is important. (I am awed by the responsibility of teaching young people.)

        If it can be done, I would form two committees to help pick topics. You would chair both committees. One committee would consist of you and two other teachers. (Or perhaps community leaders, if you can get them to do it.) Pick one teacher that disagrees with you about everything. The other committee would be you and two students, different students each week. Be sure to make it clear that these committees are not picking the topics, they are just helping you to decide. (What is discussed in your class is your responsibility.) If you see a story that you think absolutely must be covered, just do it, even if both committees disagree. Be prepared to give these committees some guidance on what you are trying to accomplish.

        Be sure to use sources other than the major media, such as blogs.

        One source for future stories is the agenda of the Supreme Court.

        Since I have absolutely zero experience with this, I will not feel offense if you conclude that I have no idea what I am dealing with and this idea is complete nonsense.

        Good Luck.
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    Jul 4 2013: @greg: the economic status of america and other countries is definitely something that will be covered during the course , and @ Robert, i like the idea of thinking smaller, more on a city level scale.

    all good thoughts.

    what is the opinion on a march madness style debate for a project during the year?
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    Jun 29 2013: I would think high unemployment is a very pressing issue.
  • Jun 28 2013: Ask the kids what they want to know. Show them how to find the answers. Ask them to learn the material and state their position. Ask them to build a case supporting their position. Ask them to defend their position with their peers. Moderate and grade on work done, criticizing skills and permit re-writes, re-defenses, changes in position, and debate skills.

    If I am to suggest, here are some ideas:

    How local governments work. How would you create a city budget?
    How insurance works. How would you solve the healthcare problem?
    How to budget you money to have what you need when you need it. How would you help someone set up a budget?
    How would you handle a budget deficit in a city? State? Nation?
    How do you plan to make a difference with your life?
    What does a government need from its citizens? Ho does government change? How does change happen?
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    Jun 27 2013: Thanks a ton everyone, It's appreciated.

    @Barry- I love the think tank idea you had about two committees, I could totally get that done. The supreme court agenda is an awesome resource as well, so thank you for that one too.

    @Greg- I'm a student (Senior to be) and I'm essentially a TA with a lot of leeway since i proposed the curriculum last year. It is for credit and It's a social studies elective. It's aimed mainly at enthusiastic learners who don't really want to take an open 6th.

    @Fritzie I've done a lot of looking into other syllabus's and curriculum's and it is a tremendous resource but thank you for the link as it was/is VERY helpful.

    I've also used the PDF for the AP human geography class and I'll look into the IB programs and what their courses can offer my course. Like you said a lot of trailblazing has been done in this.



    @ALL- thank you for the insight, and i liked Greg's idea of just tossing out Idea's that could be somewhat reviewed.

    I want the course to focus on bringing awareness to the students, as a majority of my peers are extremely unenlightened when the topic is global (or domestic) issues. So a large chunk of the course would be reading articles and watching videos (TED for example).

    I think using the words "current events" is misleading, it's more geared towards learning the condition of the world environmentally, economically, socially, culturally, and maybe even geographically.

    For example I'd love to cover how in economics, the environment can be assigned an astronomically high value. Then have a Socratic seminar with essential questions like, Do humans have the right to destroy the earth? Can you ask the impoverished to conserve, and will they do it if you so request?

    Thanks again everybody it's appreciated, let's keep rolling.