Over the course of this academic year, each academic department has worked under the leadership of its department head, Dean of Faculty Karl Methven, and Academic Dean Doug Houston to work towards a self-directed departmental goal. For Proctor's Social Science Department, this goal remains fluid, but has centered around the articulation of what skills and abilities a social science student graduating from Proctor should possess.
Understanding that we teach a diverse student body and that omnipresent access to information alters the skills necessary to be a successful learner in the 21st century, faculty must continue to adjust how we teach.
The teaching goals of the Social Science department aim to provide social literacy through collaboration, public speaking, persuasive writing, and analytical reasoning skills.
Graduating students that are not only socially aware, but willing and able to effectively wade through, engage with and synthesize the endless information streaming before them is paramount to our educational process.
Lynne Kenney and Phil Goodnow joined their two Honors US History classes for an all-day Constitutional Convention on Monday during which students were assigned "characters" and role played a real convention for over three hours.
Here are a few video clips of the day as students broke into subcommittees prior to the convention, researched their positions and then engaged in debates seeking to solve the same issues America's founding fathers sought to fix 225 years ago.
Focusing on the role of collaboration in learning, students utilize mastery of content as a means to achieving a larger goal: contributing meaningfully to a debate through thorough preparation, synthesizing ideas, and effectively articulating those ideas through both the written and spoken word.
Student reactions to the convention were incredibly positive with one sophomore claiming, "I now have such a realistic sense of how hard it is to reach a consensus in a large group. I can't imagine how hard it was during the real Constitutional Convention."
While teaching styles vary by instructor, the underlying skills taught throughout the Social Science department are rooted in common goals, ensuring that Proctor students are exposed to valuable 21st century skills that will help make them more effective learners in the future.
As teachers, we hope to use the content of our courses to teach students a varied set of skills that will serve them well beyond Proctor.
Refining departmental goals this year has helped faculty refocus on what those skills are and how we can best instill them in our students.
Collaboration with partners...
.. in a larger group...
...or with outside resources...is a valuable experience as students learn to work cooperatively and elevate their contributions to the learning process.
Public speaking, another foundational skill taught in the Social Science department, may not be a favorite assignment for students, but with practice comes confidence.
And with confidence comes the willingness to take risks in the classroom, often resulting in remarkable student work.
Critical thinking and analytical writing will always be core to what we teach...
but more than anything else we hope to inspire students to have a passion to learn.
To instill in each student a lifelong desire, and confidence, to be an independent, original thinker who positively impacts every learning environment he or she encounters.