“Social Issues Open up Social Studies”
Upper Secondary Teachers’ Conceptions of, and Didactical Reflections upon the Subject
Nyckelord:SOCIAL STUDIES, SOCIAL ISSUES, DIDACTICS, TEACHING, UPPER SECONDARY SCHOOL
This article identifies and discusses conceptions of the Swedish school subject social studies in upper secondary school through an empirical study consisting of qualitative interviews with seven teachers of social studies. The curriculum declares that teaching social studies shall be done with “social issues as the point of departure”. The analysis focuses on the teachers’ didactical reflections on the subject specific concept of social issues in relation to their own teaching practice. Conclusions that are made are that the approach of teaching social studies with ‘social issues as the point of departure’ leads to conceptions of social studies as being a subject that is open to the unexpected and that transcends its borders, and with its purpose seen as its content, or put differently: the ‘what’ defined through, or as, its ‘why’. It seems more relevant to discuss what the social issues, as a didactical concept, do to the subject rather than what they are. The very quest for a certain core in the subject is being challenged. A reflection on these results leads to a discussion on the potential intrinsic value of social issues in teaching social studies.