The intersection of culture and behavior in social studies classrooms


  • Candace Schlein University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • Raol Taft University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • Crystal M. Ramsay Penn State University


intercultural competence, social studies, behavioral disorders, Reactive Attachment Disorder, narrative inquiry


Social studies is a school subject that aims to enmesh local and global concerns and ways of understanding the world. This objective for teaching and learning presumes that students interact with social studies material from fixed and definable cultures, identities, and family structures, as well as in accordance with normalized behavioral expectations for students in school. Teachers in this content area are expected to interact with students from diverse backgrounds while helping students to acquire the tools necessary for societal participation in such multicultural settings.

Within this article, we discuss the findings of an investigation into the experiences of families of children with RAD who are transnational adoptees. We argue for the great need for social studies teachers to meet the needs of all students in terms of academics, behaviors, and cultures. We further consider how the use of intercultural competence might support the practices and perspectives of social studies teachers. We explore the intersection of culture and behavior in deliberating over intercultural competence, transnational adoptees, and social studies classrooms.