Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series)

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History, Issues and Trends in School-Based Writing Instruction, Research

To do so, some departments and faculty are making more use of primary sources, technology in presentations and research, textual analysis, and interdisciplinary courses that link English and history or anthropology and sociology.

Issue Archives

Secondary school history teachers have many students for whom high school courses will be their last formal exposure to history. These students, as well as college-bound students, have important reasons to gain historical knowledge and to be able to effectively use its methods of analysis. Research shows that the method and materials of college history classes are translated daily into the K classrooms as the way history should be conveyed. If lecture is the primary method of delivering the ideas, theories, and data of historical inquiry, this, then, becomes the method that college students perceive to be the appropriate one if they themselves begin to teach.

Research also indicates that lecture is not the most effective daily method for the diverse learners in today's schools. At the very least, the lecture method must be combined with active discussion and with exercises that involve the use of historical materials and historical analysis. The content of history has increasingly taken on a public face, as the national debate over standards has moved the content of K and college history curriculums onto the public agenda.

Such basic questions as what information is important and how it is presented to provide effective learning are concerns of history faculty at all levels. New questions continue to be raised about who is schooled in the United States and what is required in that schooling. The focus on what students know about history reinforces the need for more or certainly not less history in K classrooms.

Often history is perceived to be a story of who we are. Many individuals and groups not directly involved in history research or teaching have taken an interest in what the "story" of America and the world conveys about and to Americans. Following the release of the National History Standards document, articles in such newspapers as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post expanded the discussion beyond the exclusive realm of historians to a much more public and political forum.

Books that focus on this debate about what students should know and what they do not know in history have been on bestseller lists. How effectively we as historians articulate the method and material of history can have repercussions on history's perceived value to an increasingly vocal, aware, and interested public. In conclusion, college, university, and secondary school history faculties have similar objectives, but they offer varying depth and breadth of knowledge, use multiple techniques, and teach disparate student populations.

Because one took a college course in history does not make one a historian; because one attended high school does not make one an effective teacher. In fact, university historians and secondary school history teachers have the potential to create a forceful and productive symbiotic relationship that would benefit all instructors as well as the students they teach. Yet as Seymour B.

Sarason and coauthors commented in their book, The Preparation of Teachers , "You have to know and experience in the most intimate and tangible ways the situations which your actions purport to affect. Often direct experience is not possible. Secondary school teachers have little time to pursue academic research, and university historians have no time to sit in secondary classrooms. Even without direct experience, however, it is possible to increase awareness by understanding and recognizing the issues important to the work of the other. We need to establish connections between historians at secondary and college levels that have lasting value.


More information for university historians about secondary school teaching and an increasing recognition by both groups of their similarities could raise the number and, more important for students, the effectiveness of secondary school-university partnerships. The demographic makeup of the nation and its school population has changed.

Significantly increasing numbers of minority students and students for whom English is not their first language have changed the look of classrooms in many areas across the United States. Because of economic reasons, major population shifts have occurred within the United States, whether from urban to suburban or from the northeast to the south, southwest, or west.

School funding formulas that rely heavily on local property taxes have created unequal school environments that may vary dramatically from one part of a state to another or one part of a county or city to another. For secondary school history teachers, this demographic change has influenced not only the student composition of their classrooms but also the materials, curriculum, and personnel available to them. General recognition of the student population's diversity--whether by gender, language, ethnicity, or class--and its varying impact on student achievement have stimulated the search for inclusive scholarship in history.

Critical Issues and Bold Visions for Science Education – The Road Ahead | brill

The increased volume of new materials available from a variety of published sources, as well as through the electronic media, raises the same problem for secondary school teachers as that identified by faculty in university survey courses: How does one decide what content is essential for effective student learning in history?

In secondary schools, however-- unlike in university courses, where students purchase their own books--even when decisions are made about content, many schools lack the budget to buy new materials. Equally important, in some cases teachers lack the knowledge to create or implement a new curriculum. Thus, even an awareness of the value to a diverse student body of expanded historical knowledge does not always result in its use. Schools have been directed, often by local or state-mandated curriculums, to "take on" many of the problems faced by the society at large. School curriculum specialists have often included such social issues as race relations, teenage violence, patriotism, civil rights, and the family in history or civics classes.

The classes thus become "social problems" courses, leaving serious historical study behind to focus on current events and contemporary issues taken from the evening news or weekly news magazines. Even then, background information that might have included historical knowledge on any of these topics is woefully lacking. Following the release of the report A Nation at Risk , the general public began to become more concerned about what was being learned in schools.

Nationwide tests in the late s suggested that U. One goal--which addressed the need for students to "leave grades 4, 8, [and] 12 having demonstrated competency over challenging subjects including English, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography As the process of developing history standards has been unfolding, many of the issues that have emerged within the history profession over the past several decades have resurfaced. The "new" social history applied well to the changing needs of schools and students, but it also brought to the forefront the debate over what "truth" is and what our young people should know to meet the standards of the National Goals.

Multiculturalism raised a debate between particularists and pluralists, 11 and between "traditional" and "new" historians.

Taking Aim

This debate has been heard across many states as curriculum teams, often using funds from the Educate America Act , have begun to develop state history standards. In many cases secondary school teachers could not be real players in the debate because they did not have the knowledge base from which to make decisions about what to teach.

A survey of history teachers found that 13 percent had never taken a college history course, and only 40 percent had a B. In addition, with fewer teachers now available to fill classrooms in urban and rural schools, teachers are more often teaching "out of content. This is further reinforced by several studies. One study found that "nearly one-fourth 23 percent of all secondary teachers do not have even a college minor in their main teaching field.

In some cases, to accommodate the changing requirements placed on schools by a society that wants schools to address many of the social problems of violent youth, drop outs, or illiterate graduates, an increasing number of schools have moved to change the basic way they deliver schooling. Johnson, and Roger T.

Johnson, and Edyth Johnson Holubec, schools are restructuring in organization and curriculum. In the middle school model a group of students, grades generally, are placed with a team of teachers who are responsible for all of their academic subjects. In this model history teachers may work with English or science teachers to create themes around which several subjects may be taught.

Themes might be selected based on the content standards in history or geography. This team of teachers is encouraged to think interdisciplinarily, as classes may be combined into nontraditional or minute time blocks. In the best cases, this scheduling format has encouraged history teachers to engage in cooperative planning and to use cooperative learning for students. The model also may facilitate placing history in a context, logically integrated with other academic subjects.

Also at the middle school level many experiments have been conducted on authentic learning and assessment. Teaching methods such as inquiry long a staple of science labs and concept formation and concept attainment which focus on hands-on learning strategies are more readily tried. These methods have also been encouraged by some of the national standards documents, notably in mathematics and science. Because in creating middle schools, the whole school has been restructured a grade "junior high" has become a grade school , it has been easier to plan workshops or seminars that address new learning theories in general.

But where this structure has fallen short is in the examination of specific content. Because teachers work in teams, each teacher is expected to be responsible for the content of his or her own teaching fields.

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The professional training they receive has typically focused on how students learn, what keeps students in school, or how students can better work together, not on what students are learning. Rather, this occurs at the high school level, where the emphasis has been most focused on academic content.

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Although some high schools incorporate some of the new structure and methods of the middle school model Sizer's "essential schools" are an example , 17 most have found the ideas of cooperative learning and alternative assessments to be too difficult to implement in a system that has as its measure of success high scores on the SATs and college admissions.

Many university faculty have been linked with high school teachers in the development of advanced-placement courses and preparation for gifted and talented programs, where it is recognized that the teacher's content knowledge is essential. But in fact, content knowledge is essential for all teachers.

Willingness to think in different ways, to provide students with the newest research in content as well as in methodology, requires additional information for teachers who have been teaching for many years or who have been required by the nature of their assignments to teach out of their field of study. Many school systems, some state education departments, and the Department of Education at the federal level recognize the need for in-service training for teachers.

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These efforts, where they have been funded, have provided a valuable service to teachers and students.

Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series) Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series)
Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series) Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series)
Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series) Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series)
Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series) Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series)
Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series) Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series)
Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series) Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series)
Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series) Issues in History Teaching (Issues in Teaching Series)
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