Breaking Down the Stereotype

When I meet most of my students for the first time, they snub their noses at my content area. Why? I teach social studies. You can probably all remember your social studies or history teachers because many of them were like Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. They would have notes up on a chalk, black, or white board (depending on when you went to school) and read over them,talking in dry monotone voice. Heck, most of my college professors taught this way six and seven years ago. This type of teacher-centered pedagogy is what most social studies/history teachers used because as we are evaluated in a system of standardized tests, Heafner found (2004), “that teachers sacrifice student interest for content coverage” (49). This is troubling. Think back to my previous example of Ben Stein or the most dry history teacher you had, most of the students in these classes were not engaged or motivated to do their best. This is because as Hammond and Manfra (2009) found, “asking students to explain the answer disrupts teacher-centered pedagogies.” For this reason is why so many students are disengaged and unmotivated when it comes to this subject matter. The teacher is more concerned with covering the content, than what is best for their students.

How do we as “new age” educators combat the obstacles of the old pedagogy? As we have learned in EdTech 541, Web 2.o tools are powerful and purposeful. These tools can help engage students and motivate them to go deeper with their understanding of the content. As Noschese (2011) found, no matter how well you plan a lesson, if the student is not participating in the learning, then you are guilty of Pseudoteaching. This means you are not really teaching at all. You are giving students information and expecting them to regurgitate that information back to you in another form. Instead, we need to have students explore and inquire about content using Web 2.0 tools and questions that foster more motivation in class. With these tools, Hammond and Manfra (2009) found that “rapidly expanding the pedagogical possibilities by [using] slideware, online libraries of user-generated video, [along with] many other technologies” will help to increase our students motivation and engagement in the content area of social studies. For these reasons, is why I believe all social studies teachers should only use textbooks as a secondary resource and do away with tests. Give the students the primary sources, audio recording, maps, paintings, etc, so that they can experience first hand what was going on in that time period and make inferences from the details. Then have them create a presentation that demonstrates their understanding. Make a podcast, movie, game, poster-board, etc.  I do this in my class and you would be amazed with what my students can infer from these sources. So much more information they would have found in a textbook can be produced by them, in the same amount of time as if I just lectured, then quizzed and tested them. By using a student-centered approach and being a facilitator in social studies, we will be giving our students the needed motivation to engage in the content and strengthen their 21st Century skills of collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking.


Hammond, T.C., & Manfra, M.M. (2009). Giving, promoting, making: Aligning technology and pedagogy within TPACK for social studies instruction. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 9(2). Retrieved from

Heafner, T. (2004). Using technology to motivate students to learn social studies. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 4(1). 42-53. Retrieved from

Noschese, F. (2011). Pseudoteaching. Retrieved from