I may be a science teacher, but another passion of mine is history, so this post by Ms. Cornelius at A Shrewdness of Apes, caught my eye.
With more and more emphasis on high stakes testing, history and social studies are getting swept aside. This really worries me. Our democracy was founded with the premise that citizens will participate. However, knowledge and understanding of history (and geography and civics, etc.) is needed so that people not only understand what's going on, but participate in an intelligent manner. Our kids aren't being taught enough history, especially in elementary school, because it's not a focus of testing.
When it comes to the elementary schools science and social studies face a similar problem - with the focus on reading and math, both subjects tend to get ignored. Couple that with elementary teachers who don't feel comfortable teaching these subjects, and you get kids who hit middle school with little to no prior knowledge of the subject. Pretty hard to build on prior knowledge when there isn't any.
I wish that more elementary teachers would use books on science and social studies (lots of great historical fiction out there) to work with kids on reading. It certainly would go a long way in filling in this critical gap.
Rant over for now...