Social Studies for a Better World

A diverse democracy like the United States needs today’s young learners to be prepared to develop solutions to a host of entrenched and complex issues, including systemic racism, massive environmental problems, deep political divisions, and future pandemics that will severely test the effectiveness and equity of our health policies. What better place to start that preparation than with a social studies curriculum that enables elementary students to envision and build a better world?

In this engaging guide, two experienced social studies educators unpack the oppressions that so often characterize the elementary curriculum—normalization, idealization, heroification, and dramatization—and show how common pitfalls can be replaced with creative solutions. Whether you’re a classroom teacher, methods student, or curriculum coordinator, this is a book that can transform your understanding of the social studies disciplines and their power to disrupt the narratives that maintain current inequities.

Praise for
Social Studies for a Better World

Brilliantly conceptualized, Social Studies for a Better World offers essential insights for understanding the ability of social studies to help students decipher the past and make sense of the present. Equally important, it provides an easy-to-follow blueprint for classroom implementation. This is essential reading for anyone who believes in the power of social studies to transform society.
Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Associate Professor of History, The Ohio State University
Speaking as scholars, educators, mothers, and human beings, Noreen Naseem Rodríguez and Katy Swalwell offer the support and inspiration educators need to skillfully practice anti-oppression in our classrooms and to prepare children to carry that practice into their lives outside of school.
Carla Shalaby, author of Troublemakers: Lessons in Freedom from Young Children at School

About the Authors

Noreen Naseem Rodriguez

Noreen Naseem Rodríguez is an Assistant Professor of Teacher Learning, Research, and Practice at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She engages critical race frameworks to explore Asian American educational experiences, diverse children's literature, and the teaching of difficult histories to young people. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed and practitioner journals including Theory & Research in Social Education, The International Journal of Multicultural Education, Social Studies & the Young Learner, Literacy Today, and School Library Journal. Before becoming a teacher educator, she was a bilingual elementary educator in Texas for nine years.

Katy Swalwell

Katy Swalwell is Lead Equity Specialist for the Equity Literacy Institute and founder of Past Present Future Media & Consulting. A former classroom teacher and tenured university professor, she explores how social studies education can help people of all ages become better at identifying and disrupting oppression. In addition to publishing research in peer-reviewed journals, practitioner magazines, and other academic books, she has created the Amazing Iowa children’s book series (amazingiowa.com) and co-hosts an irreverent history podcast called Our Dirty Laundry, which examines white women’s complicity in white supremacy.

Brilliantly conceptualized, Social Studies for a Better World offers essential insights for understanding the ability of social studies to help students decipher the past and make sense of the present. Equally important, it provides an easy-to-follow blueprint for classroom implementation. This is essential reading for anyone who believes in the power of social studies to transform society.
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