Leading expert on social studies education says that discipline is coming back

Dean Cantu, associate dean and director, Department of Education, Counseling and Leadership, Bradley University, and executive director, Illinois Council for the Social Studies, says the preferred way to teach social studies is to emphasize investigation and evaluation. (Photo courtesy: WJBC/File)

By Dave Dahl

SPRINGFIELD – “Facts matter,” so we hear. But at a time when – maybe they don’t – social studies in school could be on the ropes.

Eighty percent of public school social studies teachers in a new survey say they need more help with instructional materials and training. But Dean Cantu, associate dean and director of the department of education, counseling, and leadership at Bradley University in Peoria, is more optimistic.

“I think we’ve made tremendous strides,” said Cantu, who is also executive director of the Illinois Council for the Social Studies. “The emphasis on inquiry, the emphasis on primary documents, interpretation, and analysis, with the emphasis on students taking informed action in their communities – these truly are standards of the 21st Century. They truly reflect what I believe is the skill set we want our students to have, and wanting to make them informed citizens so they can make a difference in their communities.

Dave Dahl can be reached at [email protected]



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