Modern studies finally has its own S1-S2 textbook. Pretty much everything young students need to know about the police, the Scottish Parliament, Amnesty International, the United Nations and many other key citizenship players can be found in People in Society by Helen Grant and Stephen Sinclair.
Developing a modern studies course which properly tackles the 5-14 strands can be a daunting business. Teachers can deal with rights and responsibilities, needs and representation, but what about all the tricky topics? Apparently students should be aware of how "contact with I the media influences perception of need" and how "individual enterprise helps to meet societies' needs". It's in the development plan. Honest. And probably next year's too.
Worry no more. This comprehensive, colourful and interesting text sorts it all out. If you are trying to organise a high quality S1-S2 modern studies course then step this way.
However, People in Society shouldn't please just modern studies teachers.
It should appeal to anyone interested in providing secondary students with the knowledge, understanding and skills they will require as effective citizens. The people in society element of 5-14 environmental studies is a mainstay of citizenship education. A one-volume text tackling this area of the curriculum so stylishly must be applauded.
The book kicks off by asking "What is modern studies?" and then equips students with some of the enquiry skills they need. Further chapters tackle people in society head on: rules and laws, rights and responsibilities, representation, the media, the economy and conflict resolution are all covered in a focused and enjoyable way.
Accessible text is complemented by good graphics and photographs, the activities are pitched at the right level and a comprehensive glossary fills the closing pages.
The complementary teachers' activity and assessment file is pricey but worth buying, because it provides imaginatively differentiated help sheets, extension tasks, assessments at levels D, E and F and marking schemes for them.
One small criticism is that the broad coverage leads to a lack of depth in some sections, which is perhaps inevitable in such an ambitious text. This is partially remedied by the activity file's extension tasks, but some teachers may still want their students to achieve a deeper understanding of certain topics.
Many schools seem to like this text and many have bought class sets. Each seems to use the material in different ways: some simply use the book to complement and enhance existing units, while others use chapters as self-standing units. This resource is flexible, it's logical and it is coherent.
Gavin Clark is principal teacher of modern studies at Dunbar Grammar, East Lothian