What social issues concern you most?
What issues do you think concern your students most?
You may be surprised how sophisticated their insights are. The world is awash with problems and issues, and schools cannot help students to understand all of them.
However schools can teach students how to critically analyse some social issues and how to creatively seek solutions to those they may encounter in future. Schools can and should be prepared to show students how issues in one subject area can have connections to other subject areas. They can and should allow many opportunities for students to share their perspectives and knowledge, and may have to actually guide students into how to reach consensus and resolve conflict in a civil manner. Learning these skills in realistic and authentic ways is imperative for all citizens to fully participate in a democracy.
Discussion and resolution of social problems are at the heart of citizenship.
While social media is here to stay, the clues present in face-to-face communication are important in sensing the reactions of others and developing empathy and respect for other points of view. This is one reason why there is so much emphasis the so-called 21st Century Skills (sometimes called the Six Cs) of
(Michael Fullan: Pedagogies for Deep Learning).
Development and enhancement of all of these skills involves students talking to each other. One idea is to incorporate the idea of Accountable Talk http://rpdp.net/admin/images/uploads/resource_11524.pdf so that students practice active listening, civility and inclusivity during their discussions.
Civics and Citizenship provides an opportunity to look for interconnections through its Achievement Standards which state at each year level that students are to investigate social issues.
Any social issue will have at least an historical basis, will occur in a place or places and possibly have an environmental connection, will generally be accompanied by economic costs and/or benefits, and will have a political or legal frame of reference for resolution. The Development Compass Rose is a way of helping students metacognitively recall four perspectives (as per the compass directions N,S,E and W). See http://www.globaleducation.edu.au/verve/_resources/dev-compassrose.pdf.