English teachers trying to be History Teachers

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Brendan, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 12, 2007

    At my high school it seems like the entire English Department is always trying to the kids history about the time periods of their assigned literature. I have no problem with this and appreciate it, however after looking at many student's notes and watching a few classes, the information they are giving is just wrong. For example, a English 9 Teacher was talking about the English Hieracy after they broke away from the Catholic Church. She said that the head of the English Church at this time was the Archbishop of Cantebury. Which is completely wrong! The main reason for the king breaking off from the Catholic Church was so that the king would have control over the church. Uhh and I wonder why much of my history class go that question wrong on their final.
     
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  3. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jun 12, 2007

    Ooo. that doesn't sound too good. Though I haven't started teaching yet (this fall!!!) I am qualified in both English and History and completely understand those teachers trying to link the curriculum together. However, if I were you, I'd try to find someone to mention this to so kids don't start learning that the British won the Revolutionary War.

    Any subject area teacher should feel free to link across the curriculums, but I don't think that the information should be that in-depth.

    Interesting observation though. I'll keep that in mind when I teach =)
     
  4. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Maybe you could open a dialogue and see if the English teachers would teach their historical novels at the same time you are teaching the history. Seems like both of you would benefit!
     
  5. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Thanks for the suggestion, but this is high school and the english department has set in stone what they will read each year, and only a few novels actually relate to the areas we study. Also different English Classes do differnet book sat different times and most of my kids are in different English Classes than history.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I know a middle school teacher who believes that candidates for single subject credentials should also have to pass the test required for multiple subject candidates; his reasoning is that a competent single subject teacher needs to have at least that good a grasp on material outside his or her specialty. I think he's got a good point.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I've noticed this problem as well. Sometimes when we start to talk about mythology in my Latin classes, my kids will tell me that their English teacher told them something else in English class. Often what the teacher has told them is completely, utterly wrong!

    I usually take a diplomatic approach and say something about how there are often several different views on the subject because scholars can't agree. I don't want to make the other teacher look bad in front of my students, y'know, but it really bothers me.
     
  8. ayotte04

    ayotte04 Comrade

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    Jun 13, 2007

    I don't know how to make a huge difference regarding this, because I think it's something those teachers need to be aware of and realize for themselves. I wonder if part of it occurs because a question is raised by the students and the teacher feels pressure to respond and think quickly on their feet.

    Instead of admitting they don't know, they'd rather twist the facts a bit. I'm one for saying up front, "hey I dont know, but i'll look into it and get back to you" or "I'm not completely sure, i'll ask Mr. Smith, the history teacher about that". It demonstrates to students that its OK to not know, but you also show how to take initiative/responsibility and research it.

    Brendan...I know it's not you specifically, but I would think departments heads would want to throw that into a team/staff/department meeting as a concern.
     
  9. ancientcivteach

    ancientcivteach Habitué

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    Jun 13, 2007

    That's too bad! At our high school, American Lit is taught the same year as American History and World Lit with World History. Some kids get the courses out of order but the majority take them concurrently and it has worked out great!
     
  10. TexasAggie2323

    TexasAggie2323 Comrade

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    Jun 14, 2007

    I was asked to teach a history class next year using classics literature as our way to understanding history.

    I am not sure if I am going to do it or not but I thought it was a neat and interesting way to teach history.

    The only problem is that I am a coach and I would have to create everything from scratch and I do not know if I am up to doing all that work this summer and will not have time during the season.
     
  11. AHB

    AHB Rookie

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    Ok- I'm an English teacher. I just want to know how you know the English teachers are doing this horrible thing? Are you just going on what your little cherubs told you or did you go to the assumed guilty and verify this poppycock? I have to say I know a once 7th grade history teacher who said Puerto Rico was a state during an observation by the principal. No mud-slinging intended...just want to point out we're all human beings.
     
  12. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I take offense to that I have complete and total respect for English teachers; I used to be one. Do I expect the teacher have an intimate knowledge of history no. But I do expect her to at least give her kids accurate notes on the background of literature; just as the English department would expect me to use correct grammar and spelling.

    Actually I know this becuase of a hand out the teacher gave her kids. (It had the teachers name on it so I know it was hers.) I know everyone makes mistakes, but this is ridiculus this is not the first time I have seen hand outs from her or her department with historical innacuracies on them. It is becoming a habit and is starting to confuse my kids.

    For petes sake, I would teach my kids about literary terms in my class without consulting an english teacher or a source. I expect her to do the same. If they want to teach history switch departments!
     
  13. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jun 14, 2007

    I'm an English teacher with a degree in history... here's what I've noticed. Sometimes the HISTORY teacher gives entirely incorrect information. They stay buried in their little, dated textbooks, and pay no attention to current historical theories. I'm sure that's not the case with you, but I'm sure you've also seen some history teachers who were incompetent, just as I have seen English teachers who aren't well read and struggle with grammar, etc.

    Having said that, if you really feel like this is a problem, then would I would suggest you do is send the English teachers a couple of websites as resources for their various units. If they are working on the Crucible, send them some of your information on the witch hunts or Puritan New England. Instead of suffering silently, be a bit proactive and help them out!

    If they continue to ignore it, and it comes up in a history class, tell the students that history is chock full of misconceptions and biases, and that perhaps their teachers have fallen victim to some of those ideas. Tell them more current research shows something else entirely.
     
  14. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I have seen history teachers who tell the kids many inaccurate things because they rely on the textbook way too much. I personally nor does my department (I am the history dept. chair) rely on any textbook too much. My department usually does not do this. Even if a kid asks us a question that we do not know we ask another department member or look it up. We all use a variety of textbooks, websites, books, our notes from college, readings, and videos to come up with our notes, lectures, activities, and self-created readings. We collaberate in order to prevent this from happening; we all share our worksheets, notes, readings, etc. that we have created. Becuase of this our kids, for the most part, love history and they perform extrmely well on the MCAS. I forgot to mention that even though that the History department at my school has the highest enrollment in AP classes and optional classes than any other department!

    I have tried giving them resources (websites, readings, etc) on things they are currently studying, but they thank me and just disregard them. Just yesterday I walked into an English classroom with a comletely wrong soical pyramid of Feudal Europe on the board. Often times this is not new material that has changed, just misinformed teachers who are too proud or lazy to do research.

    I will not lie to my kids most of the times these misconceptions are not cuased becuase of biases or becuase of misconceptions (how clear is a social pyramid and the difference between a serf and a peasant if you research, of course). I just usually tell the kids something like "Mrs. so-in-so must be mistaken."
     
  15. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Jun 15, 2007

    We all know situations where a teacher should be more prepared but we should also be able to work as a team for the students. As history chair, it would be appropriate to point out to the English chair what you have noticed. Maybe offer to type up some notes about the important events of this time period. They may just be grateful and you can stop feeling lousy about it.
     
  16. AHB

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    Brendan,

    I certainly didn't mean any harm...just trying to lighten things a little. But, I see that you are really upset by all this and really you've gotten some wonderful advice to take your problem up with the English teacher who is handing out misinformation to her class. I have never worked with a teacher yet that wouldn't appreciate advice delivered in a humble, descrete way to the end of bettering her/his class. I wish you success in this endeavor.
     
  17. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Thank you, AHB, for so tactfully saying what I was thinking... Every time I began a response, it sounded rude. I didn't want to offend Brendan, who is obviously just concerned about the well-being of his students .

    You rock, AHB!
     
  18. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Read Brendan's other posts. Then ask how he verified his sources. He's Social Studies chairman-- obviously well respected in his school. Read his grading procedures; he goes out of his way to be fair. Read the help he has offered to other teachers here, then imply that he's judging others without a fair hearing.

    He had a gripe. He voiced it. Having read his posts in the past, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.



    And, for the record, here's another gripe:
    It makes me crazy when people are insulting, then add a disclaimer: "no offense" or "no mudslinging intended" or "I'm not trying to start a fight." Read the words. If they're sarcastic and insulting, the odds are that the person you're writing to will be insulted.
     
  19. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 15, 2007

    THANK YOU ALICE!

    Sorry for getting so offensive, actually I am not sorry I have every right to be you insulted my iintegrity as teacher. I am just so sick of this one teacher in paticular. I talked with her about it today and she basically told me I was wrong and said that it will be on her final on Monday and will not be changing.

    The rest of the English teachers were happy to get my advice just not her.

    I find it hilarius that she thinks she is more knowledgeable than the schools history department chair who has been teaching for close to twenty years.
     
  20. AHB

    AHB Rookie

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    Don't know what to do about your gripe. However, I think you're getting awfully close to doing what you say makes you crazy. Wouldn't you say so?
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Alice's diction was not particularly emotionally charged, nor was it personalized; on balance, therefore, no, I don't think she came very close to doing what she deplores. And I agree with her in deploring it.
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nope.

    I don't try to disguise my words as other than what they are.
     
  23. AHB

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    whatever- you guys are too serious for me. The initial comment or question wasn't about me or anything I'd said. I'm out- and Brendan, I wish you all the best....AHB
     
  24. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    While many, many teachers are willing to accept criticism and do what needs to be done to correct what is amiss, not all are. From Brendan's account - and he has a good track record on A to Z - it would seem that this errant English teacher is one of the latter.
     
  25. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    No I do believe Alice was just letting you know that we don't take kindly to people insulting others here. Please think before you post.
     
  26. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Jun 15, 2007

    Brendan,
    I'm sorry this english teacher isn't taking your advice. I wish I had another teacher in my school to offer advice once in a while.
    I would have come running to you when my 8th grader wrote a paper about the Lobster Backs coming. I had no idea what he was talking about. After searching the internet for a while I figured it out. But it would have been nice to just ask someone.
    Best of luck! It sounds like you have a stubborn teacher on your hands.
    Maybe it's time to got to the the English department head or the Principal.
     
  27. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jun 15, 2007

    It is too late for this year, I will mention something to the department head (who isn't one of my biggest fans) at the beginning of next year regarding this issue in general.
     
  28. Geddesm

    Geddesm New Member

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    Please forgive me for finding your problem amusing. I myself am a history teacher and this seems to be a problem all too common between literature and history teachers. I remember one time when I was teaching about the French revolution at about the same time that an English teacher was teaching the same subject. I learned form my students that Marie Antoinette had a fetish for cake, and that is why she said "let them eat cake."

    As a history buff I've known for a long time that Marie Antoinette never actually said, "let them eat cake." The original quote comes from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions where he said, "I recalled the make-shift of a great princess who was told that the peasants had no bread and who replied: "Let them eat brioche". This was actually in reference to an incident in Grenoble in 1740, ten years before Marie Antoinette was born.

    But hey, the literature teacher wanted the students to think that Marie Antoinette had a fetish for cake.... so why not?
     
  29. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    What's scary about this is that history and literature DO feed off each other: the literature of a period is shaped by the history, and increasingly shapes the history as well. All the more reason for teachers in both subject areas to have a good grasp of both. (That, and it's a lot more fun.)
     
  30. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Yes, Teachergroupie they do. I could not agree more. However, if one is teaching something that is not in their subject they must out extra effort and research into ensuring that it is correct.
     
  31. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Ahh, that makes me laugh. That is such a minor detail though I would not that be mad. But teaching that the King of England was NOT the head of the English Church after they broke away from the Catholic, is!
     
  32. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Oh I am sorry that we are too serious for you. Education and making sure students are not misinformed is a serious thing, to me at least!
     
  33. tsrmom

    tsrmom Rookie

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    I'm an English teacher, so all I'll say is this:
    1) It is important that we get our facts right when teaching historical connections.
    2) Our state-mandated textbooks are organized by historical periods, and the literary movements that went along with those periods and we are expected to make the historical connections.
     

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