The Winnetka Social-Science Investigation

Louise Mohr, Carleton W. Washburne
1922 The Elementary school journal  
In recent years a great deal of effort has been expended in trying to secure better and more effective social-science courses. Progressive superintendents have followed the recommendations of carefully chosen committees. Teachers have followed wellconstructed outlines. Textbook writers have produced books which children read with interest. In spite of all of this activity, however, a spirit of questioning has shown itself, and the questions have been constantly asked: How do we know what facts
more » ... we know what facts in history and geography should be taught ? What civic problems should the children be trained to solve ? Obviously, we cannot teach all facts, nor train in all problems. What, then, should be the basis of selection of the material of our social-science courses ? These questions the social-science teachers of Winnetka, too, asked themselves. After some discussion, they decided to find the answer to at least one of them, namely, What facts in history and geography should we teach the children ? They therefore organized themselves into a seminar and undertook the construction of part of the social-science curriculum on the basis of a thorough statistical investigation. This work has proceeded to the point where we know definitely what persons, places, dates, and events must be known to the child if he is to become an intelligent member of society. We know further the relative importance of these items. We are now working this statistical material into a curriculum for Grades IV to VII, with corresponding test materials, and we are checking and molding this curriculum by a statistical study of the results as shown by exhaustive tests. The curriculum material itself is, as far as our ability can make it, alive, fresh, and interesting, and at the same time it is based on a strictly scientific investigation. Before describing the work of the Winnetka seminar, a statement concerning the purposes of social-science teaching may not 267
doi:10.1086/455325 fatcat:j777mthhgzbkvfnzaw63gc3qrq