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Why Social Science subjects are perceived to be boring?

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

The other day we asked the students which Social Science subject they hated the most.

History was the resounding winner, closely followed by Political Science.

"Sir, History is sooo… boring. It is all about dates, dates and dates."

"Sir, I don't like Political Science, because I hate Politics…. These unscrupulous politicians!!!…..UUFFF"

"Sir, History. Why should we study w hat some king did 1000s of years ago? How does that matter now?"

"I dread the History exam. There is so much to memorize. And I always mix updates and names. Scary!"

These feelings are not unique to the students we interacted with but shared by most students worldwide.

“I remember History was my dreaded subject in school as well. History syllabus comprised mostly details about kings of medieval times and their umpteen wars and glorification of the freedom fighters and how they scored against the colonial rulers. There were a few chapters of Civics towards the end of the History book that talked about Blocks and Gram Panchayats, which were even more boring than the History chapters,” said one of our researchers.

Another researcher shared. “I had a simple strategy then - Memorize as much as possible close to the exam date, regurgitate on the answer paper and forget as soon as I am out of the exam hall.”

As we discuss with students now, we see that, the sentiments and approach have not changed much. The subjects that are part of Social Science continue to be the most boring and neglected ones taught in the school syllabus.

Science and Mathematics dominate our syllabus. There is always instant gratification when you solve numerical problems and Science surely provides lucrative career options. So even if you have no clue where exactly you are going to use trigonometry or principles of thermodynamics in your career as a computer engineer or ophthalmologist, you study those any which way.

Mathematics deals with numbers.

Science deals with matter and energy.

And, Social Science studies people and our society.

Isn't it true that whatever career you choose, your interaction with people makes or breaks you, more than your abilities to handle machines or materials?

Isn't it true that, only through our understanding of historical context, we would be able to solve the most challenging present issues?

Isn't it obvious that public policies and governance impact us more as individuals in our day-to-day living than most other things?

Is there any doubt that by understanding and utilizing the principles of macro and microeconomics we can thrive better as a society?

History, Political Science, Economics, Geography help us to understand people, the world we live in, our past and help us guide to tackle issues of the present and make us ready for the future.

Then, how is it that Social Science subjects are still considered irrelevant subjects and dreaded by students?

For the past few months, we have been doing extensive research on how Social Science subjects are being taught in schools and why students are still averse to those? We talked to many students and teachers. We went through most of the prescribed books for classes 6 to 10 and looked at many materials that aid the teachers to teach these subjects.

The books are written, and the teaching aids are prepared by some of the best educationists of India providing a plethora of information on the subject with colorful illustrations, didactic language and interesting trivia, to enthuse the students to take interest in the subjects. There are plenty of e-learning courses to make learning more fun.

Still, the students are dispassionate about the subject.

So, what are the problems?

Of course, there are many. To highlight a few -

  • The syllabus is designed with a one-size-fits-all approach. The topper of a high-ranking public school in a metro city and an under-privileged student in a remote part of our country, are supposed to go through the same course, read the same text, and answer the same question in the exam.

  • Relevancy of the subjects to our present life missing most of the times.

  • The missing connection to other subjects makes the topics isolated and obscure.

  • Many topics are so out of context that relating to those become extremely difficult for both students and teachers.

  • Too much information packaged in too little space, for students to feel completely overwhelmed.

  • Exams are modelled to focus on memorization of facts than understanding the significance. WHAT, WHEN and WHO questions are more prevalent than WHY and HOW ones.

  • Most often the subjects are taught by teachers who are disinterested in the subjects themselves, making it harder for the students to feel any kind of attachment to those.

Our world is ridden with many problems – natural, political, and economic. As, we expect our youth to handle those effectively taking forward humanity as a whole, Social Science subjects are too important to be neglected in education. We need to create a curriculum and provide an enabling platform to make Social Science subjects not only relevant for studying, but also interesting for the students.

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