Humanities and Social Sciences education taught within a primary school context provides scope and opportunities for the integration of individual or multiple learning areas with elements of the General Capabilities and Cross-curriculum Priorities outlined in the Australian Curriculum documents (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2014). Reynolds (2012) asserts that nature of Humanities and Social Sciences education involving the study of people, society, the environment and the overlap of relevant concepts and dimensions associated with the General Capabilities and Cross-curriculum priorities necessitates an integrated approach to teaching and learning. For example, an interrelationship is evident when considering the key learning area of Geography. Students have the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge relevant to ethical understanding (General capability) and sustainability (Cross-curriculum priority) through engaging in geographical concepts such as place, environment and sustainability (ACARA, 2014). An overlap of inquiry skills reflects the interconnection of skills such as collection, analysing, interpreting and communicating that relate to the disciplines within Humanities and Social Sciences education (Gordon, 2014). It is through these shared skills that students are able to develop understandings and knowledge of the past and present that encourage them to evoke change action.
The integration of relevant General Capabilities dimensions and embedding of Cross-curriculum priorities within key learning areas of Humanities and Social Sciences facilitates the development of globally educated students. Dyer (2005) asserts that global education is a transformative process that endeavours to prepare students to be active participants in an increasingly globalised world. Students acquire positive value systems and develop the capacity to critically evaluate these values through learning to understand the world through multiple perspectives, for example; socially, historically, culturally and environmentally (Dyer, 2005). Gordon (2014) asserts that integratingthe curriculum provides opportunities for students to learn within authentic, real-world contexts and enables teachers and students to efficiently gather, analysis and process information. Furthermore, teachers are able to manage time more effectively and produce demonstrable learning outcomes within the context of an overcrowded curriculum timetable (Reynolds, 2013). However, the responsibility of designing and implementing of an integrated curriculum remains with the teacher and can be a time consuming process (Gordon, 2014).
When considering Humanities and Social Sciences education within a primary school context, I believe that a transdisciplinary or democratic approach to curriculum integration would be effective. A democratic approach to curriculum integration enables students to negotiate or initiate the focus of the inquiry, therefore ensuring that students are able to engage with a unit of learning that is authentic, meaningful and relevant (Gordon, 2014). It is following this negotiation process that appropriate learning outcomes within the relevant curriculum documents may be identified that take into consideration the learning disciplines, general capabilities and cross-curricular priorities. Boyd and Hipkins (2012) assert that applying a democratic approach to curriculum integration provides for a student-centred, inquiry-based learning environment whereby students learn to be active citizens through investigating issues or concerns relevant to their local community. Students develop an understanding of the democratic process as they negotiate and explore real-world issues. It is through the skills, knowledge and understandings acquired through collaborative and authentic learning experiences that enable students to make sense of their environment and become real-life problems solvers within their communities (Boyd & Hipkins, 2012).
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (2014a). Australian curriculum: F-10 overview. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Curriculum/Overview
Boyd, S. & Hipkins, R. (2012). Student inquiry and curriculum integration: Shared origins and points of difference (Part A). Research Information for Teachers, 3, 15-23.
Curriculum Integration. [Image 1]. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.jcjc.edu/programs/socialscience/
Curriculum Integration. [Image 2]. (2011). Retrieved from http://bonfirehealth.com/week-13-insights-spark-integration/
Dyer, J. (2005). Opportunities and challenges for global education in social education curriculum. In Paper presented at Australian Association for Research in Education Annual Conference. University of Western Sydney, Parramatta.
Gordon, K. (2014). Integrating the curriculum. In R. Gilbert & B. Hoepper (Eds.). Teaching humanities and social sciences: history, geography, economics & citizenship in the Australian curriculum (5th Ed.) (pp. 322-343). South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.
Reynolds, R. (2012). Teaching history, geography & SOSE in the primary school (2nd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press