Ten Themes of Social Studies


The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) defines social studies as the integrated study of the social sciences and the humanities to promote civic competence. 

The NCSS states that “If the young learners of this nation are to become effective participants in a democratic society, then social studies must be an essential part of the curriculum throughout the elementary years. In a world that demands independent and cooperative problem solving to address complex social, economic, ethical, and personal concerns, core social studies content is as basic for success as reading, writing, and computing. Knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for informed and thoughtful participation in society require a systematically developed elementary program focused on concepts from the four core social studies disciplines: civics, economics, geography, and history.”

The National Council for the Social Studies has identified Ten Themes of Study for the Social Studies. These ten themes include:

  1. Culture
  2. Time, Continuity, & Change
  3. People, Places, & Environments
  4. Individual Development & Identity
  5. Individuals, Groups, & Institutions
  6. Power, Authority, & Governance
  7. Production, Distribution, & Consumption
  8. Science, Technology, & Society
  9. Global Connections
  10. Civic Ideals & Practices

Lighthouses have a long and illustrious history that dates back nearly 2,300 years to the construction of the Pharos Lighthouse in Alexandria, Egypt in 280 BCE. Roman legionnaires built coastal beacons in key locations throughout the Mediterranean region to facilitate safe maritime commerce throughout the Empire. Italian city-states like Genoa used lighthouses to guide merchant ships laden with goods from into port during the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance. In fact, nearly every seafaring nation from the days of antiquity to the modern age has invested heavily in the construction and operation of lighthouses to guide mariners safely along their shores and navigable waterways.

Lighthouses reflect the times in which they were built and operated and provide an interesting and relevant means for studying history through the lens of the Ten Themes of Social Studies as identified by the National Council of the Social Studies.

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