Position Paper (Graduate Students)

For this assignment you will research a contested issue (see ideas below) in the teaching of social studies and write a brief paper in which you outline both sides of the argument and take a position on it.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Thanksgiving celebrations (Pilgrims and Indians approach)
  • Celebrating Columbus Day (or should it be Indigenous People’s Day?)
  • How we teach about Indigenous People
  • Teaching about slavery to young children (myth of the happy slave)
  • The truth about our founding fathers (slave holders)
  • LGBTQIA+ books in the classroom (gender identity and expression can be included here)
  • Family structures (interracial marriage, two moms/two dads, single-parent families, foster families, adoption, etc.)
  • Book banning and the implications for social studies
  • Pledge of Allegiance (its meaning and use) and patriotism
  • Fake news and current events
  • The January 6th insurrection
  • Issues around personal values, race, ethics, and stereotypes

If you don’t see a topic here you want to write about, send me a note and let’s discuss it.

Your paper should have a minimum of 3 sources. This is not a research paper, so your sources can be newspaper articles, blog posts, radio broadcasts (think NPR stories), news videos, pedagogical articles, etc.

Your goal is to present an issue that challenges teachers and students in the classroom. Describe both sides of the issue, and then take a stand. How do you want to approach this in your classroom? There is no right or wrong here. I’m will not be evaluating your position based on whether or not I agree with it. You might be uncomfortable with an issue and decide it is best kept out of your classroom. You might believe an issue is too sophisticated for the age of child you hope to teach. Both of those are acceptable answers. There are others as well. Share your thoughts and feelings honestly as you weigh these issues and grapple with how you hope to teach social studies.