Every year I begin my eighth grade social studies class by asking students to answer this question on an index card:
Why is social studies the most important class you will take this year?
It’s an absurd question, of course, and I learn a lot by seeing how each student tackles it. Most of them simply write out some reasons why social studies is important. Others add that other classes are equally important. A few argue that another subject trumps social studies altogether. Occasionally someone identifies it as a leading question and castigates me for pedagogic incompetence.
This year, however, I received an answer that had me laughing aloud at my desk after school:
I don’t know yet. Convince me.