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Social study is one of the most interesting subjects in a school curriculum. It is also very important in a student’s life, because it informs the student about the economic, social and technological progression of the world. The study of these disciplines provides the driving force in making of moral, customary and value changes in a society. The goal of social studies should be to train students on political and moral values necessary to deal with challenges presented by global changes (Rapoport, 2009). This essay focuses on a textbook used by students learning social studies, its arrangement, how it relates to other subjects and the topics it covers.
Social education is defined as the study of all activities that people engage in through time and space. Limits about what would be important social knowledge should be defined in order to achieve the goals of the study. This would be necessary, because it would prepare students for participation and contribution of skills and knowledge to the society. According to previous researches, the importance of teaching social studies is to integrate social norms into a student and pass on facts and concepts of a society from intellectual disciplines (Ross, 1997).
A social studies textbook used in Singapore in level one is used for the purpose of completing the task of this essay. The textbook is called social studies textbook written by the Singapore curricula planning and development division in the ministry of education (Singapore Curriculum Planning and Development Division, 2000). The contents of the book are formulated with the aim of teaching students about their country and resources. According to research, social study should inform students about where they live (Ross, 1997). For instance, the first chapter of the book is concerned with teaching students about Singapore River as the heart of the island.
The book aims at informing students about their country’s history and the challenges that it faces. In chapter one, the book expounds on the challenges that the country faced in the year 1945. These included unemployment and shortage of food and housing. The chapter also gives an account of the history of Singapore’s communist rebellion against the Japanese (Singapore Curriculum Planning and Development Division, 2000).
The book commences by providing a detailed description of the country’s history in revolution. This should familiarize students with what has already taken place in their country with major events being highlighted as case studies. According to the research, the social studies textbook should have detailed historical explanations of events that shaped the country’s political and social-economic standards (Singapore Curriculum Planning and Development Division, 2000). This is inline with the definition of social education, as having an element of time and space.
The second chapter deals with the political state of the country from the time it gained independence. The main aim of the chapter is to inform students about the political mergers that occurred in their country and why they occurred (Singapore Curriculum Planning and Development Division, 2000). As was earlier discussed, the objective of studying social education is to inform learners about the political history and state of the country.
The book uses pictures and artistic drawings together with the text. The drawings are used to enhance the understanding of the learner by creating a visual effect of the content. The artistic impressions are used to drive home the facts about the subject of discussion of the chapter. For instance, the use of a lion and a cheetah arguing about the common market is used to make the ides of separation vivid to the learner (Singapore Curriculum Planning and Development Division, 2000). This is a necessary link between the social studies and art, because the students would learn that art can be used to express ideas.
There is an extensive use of reciprocal teaching method in the book. Important ideas and information are highlighted by inclusion of a fact caption in every page. Such captions are used to help the learner gain more knowledge on a subject, despite the fact not falling on the scope of the subject. Newspaper cuttings are also included in the formation of the book showing some of the events that took place in history. The cuttings help the learner to connect with the emotions that were present in people during the historical moments.
Photographs of key political figures in the country have also been incorporated with the text. This helps the learner to be able to relate the face of a political figure with his name and what he did for the country thus enhancing understanding. Important processes, such as the voting process is incorporated as a side note to het text with the intention of broadening the learners imagination, as to what goes on in a voting station (Singapore Curriculum Planning and Development Division, 2000). It also helps to prepare the student to become a voter in the future.
According to research, substantial learning occurs by defining of goals, teaching towards attaining the goals, and checking if goals are attained. There are two ways of testing if the objectives of learning have been attained (Singapore Curriculum Planning and Development Division, 2000). This is testing at the end of the course and using authentic assessment. This is in general called authentic instruction (Stern, 2002). A good textbook should be able to offer a chance for authentic learning and testing.
There are five standards of authentic assessment. Higher order of thinking means having the ability to understand the course beyond memorization and repetition. This is achieved when students analyse and evaluate the course material. The depth of knowledge means that the student can think critically and solve problems (Singapore Curriculum Planning and Development Division, 2000). This needs an in-depth study of the course and the problem. The students can support their answers with reasons (Stern, 2002).
Students should be able to relate what they learn in class with the real world. This is called connectedness to the real world. The students should also be able to engage in substantive conversation involving relevant discussions in the classroom with the teacher and fellow students in exploration of the topic. This is called active learning, because the students are given a chance to ask questions or answer questions according to their own understanding (Stern, 2002).
The book of social studies is used together with an activity book. The activity book is a review of the textbook. It contains questions that are based in such a way that they offer students a chance to discuss an issue (Singapore Curriculum Planning and Development Division, 2000). It also contains sections where it allows learners to give a summary of what they have learnt through the textbook.
The students should receive the social supports from the teacher or the textbook in their search for answers. The teacher and the textbook should be facilitators of knowledge and not just the source of truth or information. The two should guide the students in their discussions and in their reasoning during the learning process. The textbook should also guide the students in relating social studies to other disciplines, so as to find meaning or connectivity in the real world (Stern, 2002).