History teaching questions

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by confusedman, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. confusedman

    confusedman Rookie

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    Nov 20, 2010

    Hello once again friends! First off, I would like to thank all of those who so generously responded to my previous post. I really appreciated all of your input so thanks, it meant a lot to me.

    As someone who is looking to pursue a career in being a secondary-school history teacher, however, I have several questions. These have been gnawing at me lately so I would like to hear some input please.

    1) Is it feasible to provide other sources besides the textbook? For example, can one easily integrate primary source texts into one's lesson plans or is that frowned upon? I am not talking about having the students purchase those texts but about having the teacher deciding to print out some pages and distributing them around the class?

    2) What if one is teaching and comes to the conclusion that the textbook has glaring historical errors in it? For example, the textbook might say "Columbus discovered that the earth was round" or "After the fall of the Roman empire it was only until the Italian Renaissance that people realized that it was important to learn and so they started reading classical works." Essentially, the usual myths being propagated as history. Can a teacher flat out say to the class that the textbook is incorrect in certain regards?


    Thank you all very much for your time! ;)
     
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  3. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Nov 20, 2010

    Some schools might require that you 'go by the book', but I don't think too many, especially in regards to the type of instances you cited. I always added tons of resources (5th grade) which would give the kids a broader perspective. I made sure to include those that refuted the old school, biased types of junk that has been passed on through the years.
     
  4. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Nov 20, 2010

    It depends on the school and the district. Most don't make you teach 'by the book', especially in a subject such as history. Primary sources are a huge part of history and would be great resources! As far as telling the students that the textbook is wrong, it depends on how you tell them. Of course, there are always two sides to history, and some texts are only going to tell one side so there may indeed be some things left out.
     
  5. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Nov 20, 2010

    The history teacher in my school doesn't even use a book. He has a vast collection of handouts and videos with reading guides, listening guides, worksheets, etc, etc, etc.

    He runs a TON of copies to make his class work, but his students' grasp of his material is quite impressive and the vast majority score advanced on that all important state test.

    A text book should never be the end all be all.
     
  6. LastPlaceJason

    LastPlaceJason Rookie

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    Nov 20, 2010

    I use my textbooks all the time. They make wonderful fortresses, can be used to prop up desks that are too short, or can even be used as a clipboard in a pinch.

    History should be taught using primary sources. A textbook account of history is one subjective interpretation. Used alone, they are crap. I think it is critically important to teach kids the idea that history isn't a collection of "facts", rather a series of interpretations that are influenced by personal bias, prevailing social climate, political motives, and a host of other things.
     
  7. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Nov 20, 2010

    Unless your school is using textbooks more than 20 years old, I don't think you will run into these problems with current textbooks. For instance, the time period between the Fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance has been called the Middle Ages and the High Middle Ages since I began teaching over 16 years ago. There are quite a few students still taught the "Columbus/Earth is Round" stuff but not in any history textbooks that I have taught out of.

    Most good textbooks these days have primary sources included either in the acutal text, or as a seperate workbook or even as seperate readers.

    If you run into an incorrect fact in a textbook, I think the better idea is allowing your students to find the evidence to prove or disprove the fact. It would be a lesson in research, credible sources, critical thinking and reading skills.
     
  8. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Nov 21, 2010

    I absolutely think it's appropriate to use other sources to supplement the book. To be honest, I hate my American history textbook and a study was done on it and it scored a 3.5 out of 10 for accuracy so I really try to stay away from it. I sent out a sheet during the first week of school titled, "Things the Textbook Got Wrong." It opens with the fact that the book thinks Christians started African slavery and ends with the fact that the book propagates that the reason why the ERA failed is because of a conservative Congress. (Yes, let's ignore the fact that Africans started enslaving other Africans way before the Christians arrived and that many women actually opposed the ERA because of the new military obligations it would have.)
     
  9. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Wow - what textbook is this? How does your textbook indicate how the Christians got the slaves if the book doesn't talk about the fact that Africans enslaved other Africans? Wow - really!!
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    The take-home lesson of the history of slavery is that one can't assume that ANYone's hands are altogether clean. At which point the old kitchen maxim applies: having corporately made the mess, it's up to all of us to keep cleaning it up.
     
  11. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I think my favorite error in a text book was the following quote:

    "The US Constitution was deliberately written with a bias toward the Republican Political Party."

    The teacher, however, was a brilliant teacher. The assignment was to identify what was wrong with that statement, and why it couldn't be true.
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    mm, so many things are wrong with that statement, I can't tell where to start.
     
  13. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    :lol: The teacher was going for the fact that the US Constitution predates the GOP by more than a few decades, but there's enough else wrong with that statement to justify a 5 page paper....at least.
     
  14. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    That was actually in a textbook?? :dizzy: Wow - again totally amazed
     
  15. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    One of my classes has "The Americans" and the other uses "Pathways to the Present." Both books insinuate that the slavery in Africa was started by Christians. TA is the worst history book I think I've ever read. It's just infactual in so many ways it's ridiculous.
     
  16. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Nov 21, 2010

    I use Holt's Medieval World textbook as a shield in two seperate lessons. It is hardly even good for that.

    I'm so very glad that textbook history is slowly (albeit painfully slowly...) being chipped away. I will continue to dream of it's utter destruction.
     
  17. historynut

    historynut Rookie

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    Nov 21, 2010

    :lol:

    Forgive me for wondering over from Elem. Ed. I teacher 6th Grade World History.
    I only use the book as a guide to what I need to cover. (90% of the time I go much deeper but it is a start) That and the occasional "read this and answer the questions" assignment when I have a sub. I use worksheets and powerpoints that I've created or borrowed from other wonderful history teachers. As long as I stay on my districts curriculum map they don't care how I teach it.
    Everyone at my school knows I hate the book and would launch it out of a catapult if I could. :D
     
  18. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Nov 22, 2010

    It's not history, but I've run into similar problems with math text books.


    My current book spends one section properly addressing how to solve for X when X is squared (for those non-math folks, the answer to X squared = 25 is +5 and -5.....two answers.) The rest of the book screws it up and only lists the answer as the positive.

    The same book presents carbon-14 dating as a linear relationship and starts an entire chapter with this example. Carbon-14 decays on a half life which is exponential decay and definitely non-linear.

    Our Algebra II book is much worse and often gives wrong answers in the answer set. I set up a clicker run the first time I used this book. I used 2 multiple choice work sheets from the chapter resource book as test prep. Out of 40 questions, the book's key had 2 correct answers and many of the problems didn't even have a correct answer in the options to choose from. (Talk about a totally screwed up lesson plan.)
     
  19. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    My favorite is a math lesson that came with manipulatives. The children were to make a clock to help them learn to tell time. A secretary made the clocks for me (she spent all day doing it.) As I was teaching the lesson, I was explaining to 6 year olds that there is five minutes from one number to the next and that is why we count by tens. Then I demonstrated by counting the minutes on the clock...that is when I realized that the clock had 6 minutes between each number. I thought I was crazy, so I went next door to ask another teacher what was wrong with this clock? The same lesson gave hints to determine the pair of socks they were talking about...one was they aren't pink, well, none were. The paper was printed in black and white.
     

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