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COMPASSION AND CARING: MISSING CONCEPTS IN SOCIAL STUDIES PROGRAMS

Pearl Oliner
The Journal of Education
Vol. 161, No. 4 (FALL 1979), pp. 36-60
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42772948
Page Count: 25
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
COMPASSION AND CARING: MISSING CONCEPTS IN SOCIAL STUDIES PROGRAMS
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Abstract

Current social studies curricula in elementary and secondary schools reflect a generally humanistic perspective. They nonetheless suffer from a serious omission: they do not include the study of prosocial behaviors, that is, behaviors that evidence altruism, generosity, compassion, and caring. This omission has serious consequences, for it tends to legitimize the view that human behaviors are basically self-serving. It leaves little for youth to emulate in terms of their own prosocial behaviors. Since citizenship education is a primary concern of the social studies curriculum, it behooves curriculum developers to fashion programs that will help youth behave in caring and concerned ways toward others. Such programs need to include at least three elements: (1) opportunities for students to conceptualize prosocial behaviors, (2) opportunities for students to develop social cognition skills, and (3) the provision of prosocial models. Conceptualization focuses on the analysis of altruistic, generous, and caring behaviors in various periods and places in history. Social cognition includes those skills relating to understanding the feelings, intentions, and thoughts of others. Prosocial models include real figures of all ages and groups who have shown care and concern for others in ordinary and extraordinary ways.

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