Thursday, March 10, 2005

Social Studies

One of the nice things about independent learning is that you are not restricted to the pace of a class or a teacher; you can go as fast as you like, or as slow; you can skip and skim or be deep and thorough, and you can bounce around from one topic to another. The temptation is to be quick and superficial. What matters is your own interest and ability to stick to a project. Do a little something, each day.

The subject I am calling social studies is traditionally included in the areas of sociology, anthropology, human geography, and history. It deals with the civilizations, peoples, nations, ethnic groups, and communities of the world and their structure and the changes they undergo.

Certainly this is based on nature and physical geography. Every person belongs to some society or community, but some are more prominent and influential than others. The fundamentals of society, including population and distribution, and the human interaction with nature, are also important in these studies. Language and literature, the arts, and technology are important components of human societies, and the major social institutions of family, education, economics, government, and religion are also part of these studies. Also, each society and community has its own history. This illustrates how subjects may be seen from various different perspectives. I tend to put histories of particular nations or societies here, while in the history section I organize them by time, so that I compare ancient peoples to ancient peoples, medieval peoples to medieval peoples, and modern peoples to modern peoples. A history of China from ancient through medieval and modern times would go with other studies of Chinese people.

I divide this section
1) Peoples of the world
2) Communities and cities
3) Social structure and change.

As an exercise, try identifing, in increasing or decreasing order, the communities you belong to. For instance, in the US; town or city, county, state, nation, and then groupings of related nations.

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