When I first picked up June R. Chapin’s A Practical Guide to Middle and Secondary Social Studies as an undergraduate there was little to lead me to anticipate that, as a prospective secondary school educator, I would get much out of it. With its bland purple cover and a quick flip through the pages there seemed little to whet my appetite. However, after breezing through it, cover to cover, I was forced to admit that my reservations were unfounded. The book did wonders to address questions that I had as well as raised relevant ones that I had not.
The book is not a How-To guide, nor does it go into very much specific social studies material. Instead, it properly assumes that you have a solid social studies and history education and delves into the current problems, advantages, resources, and controversies that a new social studies teacher is likely to face. Additionally, it gives tips and recommendations on how to employ certain materials and subject matter, though this is not the main focus of the book.
The topics covered include teacher and student-centered instruction, assessments and evaluations, teaching history and civics and, to a lesser degree, geography, economics, and behavioral sciences, and the implementation of technology into lessons. Though the book does not go into great depths in its topics, it will give curious teacher candidates a clearer perspective of the profession to which they aspire, and will provide plenty of material that will prompt serious discussion in a social studies education course.