A conceptual framework for designing a culturally pluralistic social studies curriculum for secondary education



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The purpose of this investigation was to develop a conceptual framework for secondary education. This study identified components that might serve as a basis for designing curriculum on the secondary level. These components were arrived at by a consensus among social studies educators regarding the role of social studies education in a society which is comprised of various cultural, ethnic, and racial populations. This study was based on a sample of one hundred twenty-six experienced social studies educators, one-third of whom were social scientists, one-third of whom were high school teachers, and one-third of whom were social studies specialists. These judges were selected from colleges and universities with approved programs in teacher education and public schools in the State of Texas. The study was conducted over a period of four months during the 1976 Spring semester. The statistical techniques used for analyzing the data were scale values (S) and interquartile range values (Q). Scale values indicated the position along the unfavorable–favorable psychological continuum on which each statement was judged. Q-values assessed the variation of the distribution of judgments for each attitude statement. Findings. The findings of this study resulted in the identification of components that established the basis for the development of a conceptual framework for a culturally pluralistic social studies curriculum for secondary education. These components consisted of statements of purposes, content, and methods judged favorably for a curriculum with pluralistic orientation, and presented elements of commonality among social studies educators with diverse frames of reference. Conclusions. The following conclusions were drawn from the study: 1. A major point of difference between social studies theorists and the social studies educators in this study existed in the degree of emphasis that should be placed upon cultural pluralism in planning social studies curriculum. There were possible philosophical differences between these groups over the principles basic to cultural pluralism. While both groups appeared to recognize cultural diversity as a fact of life in American society, they disagreed on whether this diversity should be preserved and extended. 2. Colleges and universities that are engaged in the preparation of teachers have a central role in the positive development of a culturally pluralistic society. If cultural pluralism is to become an integral part of the educational process, teachers must be prepared in an environment where the commitment to multicultural education is evident. 3. The study has demonstrated that the impact of culture is very important in making curricular decisions for social studies education. These decisions are important for this time because they articulate the concerns of social studies educators as they relate to curriculum development. While the statements agreed upon by these educators are not final, they do emphasize those concerns as they relate to purposes, content, and methods. Recommendations. From the findings of the study and the conclusions reached, the following recommendations were made: 1. Social studies theorists have affirmed that social studies education functions to preserve and enhance cultural pluralism. The social studies educators in this study strongly rejected these functions as goals favorable to a social studies curriculum. Given this disparity, the following questions are recommended for further study: (1) Do social studies educators, in general reject the principles of cultural pluralism? (2) If so, do they vary on the basis of geographic region, race, sex, or subject matter orientation? 2. A culturally pluralistic social studies curriculum that accurately represents the diverse multicultural nature of the American society should be developed for secondary education utilizing the conceptual framework that is presented in this study. In addition, there is a need to develop the kinds of instructional materials that would be pertinent to such a curriculum. 3. There is a need for awareness and training programs in multicultural education geared, in general, to educators on the university level, and designed for social studies educators in particular. These programs would function to (a) give educators an opportunity to examine the philosophy, principles, and values of cultural pluralism, and (b) train educators in the areas of pluralistic content and teaching strategies. 4. This study contributes a conceptual theory for the development of social studies curricula. It does not address itself to the problems of implementing the theory into practice. Further study is needed to develop a process for operationalizing the conceptual framework and for its implementation into the classroom.



Cultural pluralism, Social sciences--Curricula