Tutor and Writer-Translator

Social Studies

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Master maps and timelines!

Struggling with Social Studies? Confused by all those dates and maps? I can help! Social Studies, or Social Sciences are halfway between science and literature, so to succeed, you need to think both rationally and critically. Because of the format in which they are taught, studying for a History or Geography test can be time-consuming, and requires a solid long-term homework schedule for best results. Curiosity is a key quality in top-scoring History and Geography students.

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Why was the American involvment in World War I so important? Why does it matter that Louisiana once referred to a much larger area than the current state of Louisiana, and was controlled by Napoleon’s French Empire? Because those facts shaped history, on all levels: the US went on to become the most economically and politically powerful countries in the 20th century, and New-Orleans still celebrates a traditionnal French holiday, mardi gras! In Social Studies, we study our societies and how they evolved: their habits, their endeavours, and their differences, as we try to make meaning of it all. That means a good Social Studies student needs to know both the facts (What happened in 1939 that led to the beginning of World War II) and the context (Why were the world's most powerful countries almost all on the brink of war in 1939?).

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But to tackle these big questions appropriately, you have to have your basics covered first. You have to study! Many students have trouble setting up a manageable, consistent study schedule and method. This is essential to succeed! Especially in Social Studies, where you’re expected to know dates, maps, beginnings and ends of historic periods and much more as you graduate to higher grades. So I like to set up a custom-made study plan for each of my new students. The key is making it manageable: cramming is exhausting and an poorly managed study schedule is counter-productive. Study habits are best changed slowly, and respectfully: every student has a different way of learning, and sometimes it differs from the method used by the top students in their class. That's ok.

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Once you know all your facts, dates, and maps, it's time to think critically! Think about it: the more you know, and the more you question the new things you’re learning (and take corrections into account), the more you’ll gain a complex, critical understanding of each chapter you study. In France, where I studied History, Geography, and Social Studies, students are often taught history in a chronological order: from cavemen to the birth of writing, moving on to ancient Greece, medieval times, and then the later 18th century. It’s only in the last two years of high school that we studied the 19th and 20th centuries. Why is that? Because the closer an era is to our own, the more subject to debate it becomes, and because we have more information, it’s harder to simplify everything without bias. It’s the same in Geography: students start with maps of the entire world, learning about densely populated cities and deserts, to slowly move on to more in-depth subjects, like the organization of one country, and eventually, the geography of a single city, and the social and economical reasons behind its current organization. That’s how I strive to teach Social Studies: moving from the general to the specific gradually, so students can understand quickly, and hone their own critical skills.

So if you need help in Social Studies, I am here to help!