Every heard the phrase, ‘This is not your father’s Oldsmobile‘ before? Well, this isn’t your father’s Social Studies… or anyone else’s prior to the release of the C-3 Framework.
Back in October, I mentioned the C-3 Social Studies framework was released. I’ve been able to dig a little bit into it and what I saw mirrors the Common Core in terms of it being devoid of content. It literally is just a framework. Targets by grade level have been placed behind the framework much in the way that ELA and Math have benchmark skills. The material to be used or example of lessons are not included. I suspect it will fall on teachers to supply this just like they did with the initial roll out of the Core.
Quick reminder, this whole thing is about preparing kids for college and careers, becoming civic-minded citizens interested in the “common good”. Here’s the paragraph from the opening page to this report again:
IN THE COLLEGE, CAREER, AND CIVIC LIFE (C3) FRAMEWORK FOR SOCIAL STUDIES STATE STANDARDS, THE CALL FOR STUDENTS TO BECOME MORE PREPARED FOR THE CHALLENGES OF COLLEGE AND CAREER IS UNITED WITH A THIRD CRITICAL ELEMENT: PREPARATION FOR CIVIC LIFE. ADVOCATES OF CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION CROSS THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM, BUT THEY ARE BOUND BY A COMMON BELIEF THAT OUR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC WILL NOT SUSTAIN UNLESS STUDENTS ARE AWARE OF THEIR CHANGING CULTURAL AND PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENTS; KNOW THE PAST; READ, WRITE, AND THINK DEEPLY; AND ACT IN WAYS THAT PROMOTE THE COMMON GOOD. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE DIFFERING PERSPECTIVES ON THESE OBJECTIVES. THE GOAL OF KNOWLEDGEABLE, THINKING, AND ACTIVE CITIZENS, HOWEVER, IS UNIVERSAL.
From the 110 page .pdf put out by The National Council of Social Studies:
OVERALL DOCUMENT ORGANIZATION The C3 Framework begins with two narrative explanations: the Inquiry Arc, which provides the organizing structure for the document; and the Overview of English Language Arts/Literacy Common Core Connections, which highlights the important relationship between the C3 Framework and the Common Core State Standards for ELA/Literacy. Next, the C3 Framework presents the following four Dimensions: 1 Developing questions and planning inquiries; 2 Applying disciplinary concepts and tools; 3 Evaluating sources and using evidence; and 4 Communicating conclusions and taking informed action.
As you can see, this framework is meant to dovetail with the ELA portion of Common Core. They define Inquiry Arc as:
The Inquiry Arc highlights the structure of and rationale for the organization of the Frame-work’s four Dimensions. The Arc focuses on the nature of inquiry in general and the pursuit of knowledge through questions in particular.
From how this set of statements reads coupled with the chart (below), this is seems to be a blueprint for training how to view topics not teaching actual material.
As you get further into the document, you will find that the C-3 is directly dependent on the ELA and “framing” topics with quotes like this one from page 24:
CENTRAL to a rich social studies experience is the capability for developing questions that CAN FRAME AND ADVANCE AN INQUIRY. Those questions come in two forms: compelling and supporting questions.
Well, who determines the questions developed? What sources are being used? The framework is ambiguous at best about this from pages 24 through 26. One gets the sense this is all being made more complicated than it has to be. What happened to just teaching actual history, Geography or actual civics? Why does it all have to be turned into multiple diagrams and specifically why does all of this have to be “framed'”? Framed how? Again, ambiguous.
Beyond the Inquiry Arc (page 29), the C-3 dictates four core disciplines with familiar names: Civics, History, Geography and Economics. The document then goes into more detail and benchmark skills associated with each discipline. I suggest folks read them all. I had a problem with the very first sentence of the Civics section. Can you spot why?
IN A CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY, productive civic engagement requires knowledge of the history, principles, and foundations of our American democracy, and the ability to participate in civic and democratic processes.
The United States is a Constitutional Republic, not a Constitutional Democracy. There’s more little snags like that, but it is a huge document and I encourage people to explore it on their own. Fair warning, it’s as exciting to read as the Common Core site which I equate to reading stereo instructions in Chinese. I did it though and so should you because as G. K. Chesterton once said, ‘Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.’
Two people from North Carolina were involved in the C-3 Document. They are:
- John Lee Ph.D., Associate Professor of Social Studies Education, NC State Uiniversity
- Bruce VanSledright, Professor of History and Social Studies Education,UNC Charlotte
Also, over at Huffington Post, Alan Singer notes this about the C-3 framework push, which lines up with what I’ve found myself and detailed in this article. The HuffPo article also harps on this being part and parcel of “college readiness”, which anyone paying attention knows the Common Core won’t do as it teaches to the middle 40%. Here are the key excerpts below with a little commentary.
I agree here:
According to the NCSS, their goal with the C3 framework is to “enhance the rigor of the social studies disciplines,” “build the critical thinking, problem solving, and participatory skills necessary for students to become engaged citizens,” and “align academic programs in social studies to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies.”
Then in the very next paragraph he loses me. One should not confuse rigor with age inappropriate material:
The NCSS frameworks are based on the principle that preparing students for civic life is an essential component of education in a democratic society and is as vital as providing them with the academic skills needed for college and careers. But in addition, since “inquiry is at the heart of social studies” and the field is inherently interdisciplinary, social studies is a valuable arena for supporting the growth of the type of “deep and enduring understandings” promoted in the Common Core Standards.
Singer is a professor at Hofstra and displays emphasis on areas like economic injustice and slavery like every other “higher ed’ professor it seems. This is where he started to lose me:
Additionally, in social studies as well as in the sciences, there is a lot of debate over exactly what should be taught. In my own scholarly work, I emphasize the historical and contemporary role race and racism played in shaping the United States from slavery, through Jim Crow, to 21st century residential segregation and income inequality.
I have also written about how capitalist industrialization as a transformative force has had many negative consequences including displacement of populations, technological unemployment, environmental degradation, imperialism and war as industrial nations fought for raw materials and markets, and all the problems associated with globalization. Based on past curriculum debates, I am sure many state education departments would shy away from giving these topics the importance in a history curriculum that I argue they should receive.