On the Joys of Being a Social Studies Teacher

Following the lead of UC-Berkeley’s fabulous Beauty and Joy of Computing class, we are now talking about computing in the news on a near-daily basis.  The student whose turn it is to run a class discussion chooses a topic, we read a short article, and then there is discussion.  I’m not accustomed to being a social studies teacher and I am definitely developing a deep appreciation for what my colleagues in that department can do.

I’m learning as I try to sort out suggested questions for students to pose to their classmates.  I’ve learned that a good first question is, “What was this article about?”  And I’ve learned that a good second question is, “OK, what was this article REALLY about?”

Today’s topic was “Siri v. Google Now”.  The kids understood the difference between the two, but nobody was asking, “What are you giving up to use one of these tools?”  It makes for an interesting discussion.

Yesterday, a student chose the Apple Watch which currently demands an iPhone purchase as a prerequisite.  My favorite comment was from a student who often travels to China.  He said that the iPhone was hugely popular there and also claimed, “Unlike Americans, the Chinese are materialistic…”

The things I learn from my students…

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