Spin Off Thread--History Teachers, please read!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by AdamnJakesMommy, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Nov 3, 2016

    History teachers!!!! I have an issue of urgent concern!!

    We have a new curriculum coach who says NC DPI is pushing a new initiative so that social studies/history K-12 in NC will no longer teach history chronologically---there is a serious discouraging of chronological teaching--I don't know if the coach is severely mistaken or if this is a legitimate push, I have alerted my principal who has told me to keep doing what I do---however it's still on my mind. Rather than teaching events/concepts/ideas chronologically, we should teach "topically" such as a whole nine weeks about "Human Suffering/Injustice" and incorporate various historical events into that category. For example, we could teach Hiroshima and Nagasaki in that unit.
    Likewise, the sample unit plan she gave me has us teaching all wars and revolutions in the 4th 9 weeks, so the Enlightenment would be taught in the 2nd 9 weeks, while the American Revolution would be taught in the 4th.

    As a historian, this troubles me. My undergrad was B.A. magna cum laude with disciplinary honors in history. I feel like teaching in this manner causes students to lose valuable insights:for example, we lose the continuity and connectivity of historical events and movements---which morph and change over time. Additionally, teaching an event like Hiroshima and Nagasaki out of context, without the backdrop of a unit on World War II presents a very skewed depiction of the US role in the event. For example, they need understanding of Japanese imperialism, Japanese encroachment on its neighbors, the Rape of Nanking, etc.

    I find this "shift" troubling. What do you all think? Obviously, the most effective way of teaching history is through teaching "big ideas and major conceptual topics," (rather than rote memorization of dates and facts) I agree with that aspect. However, it seems to make more sense to show students how economic ideas morphed and changed over time, rather than teaching a block unti on economy. I find that those abstract ideas tend to translate into true understanding when students are constantly rehashing and re-evaluating ideas the entire school year, with each progressive unit.

    AdamnJakesMommy, Yesterday at 8:58 PM
     
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  3. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Nov 4, 2016

    I think both approaches are valid, but appropriate under different circumstances. The little ones need a time-based approach to have any understanding. Otherwise, the pilgrims might as well be the pioneers to them. It does depend a bit on how your state breaks down the curriculum by grade. For me, proper history class started in 3rd grade with state history. 4th was cultural and geographic US by region, 5th US through the Civil War, 6th western civ., 7th repeated 5th, 8th was 1865-1970ish. 9th was regional world, 10th US P&E and S&G. Chronology didn't matter until 5th grade, which might be why I remember learning nothing except the states & capitols and our state song prior to then. As long as there's a prior understanding of major world events, concept-based classes are fine. That said, my 8th graders (music students) had no idea that Elvis, The Beatles, MLK & JFK, the Cold War, and the moon landing all overlapped in one decade. The irony is that they learned that particular chronology during a concept-driven lesson on political music.

    I would be concerned if the new initiative pushed concept-based teaching prior to high school. By that point, the kids should have enough grasp of things to understand say, how the expansion of the group of eligible voters relates to various historical events, and they can benefit from deeper conceptual teaching. I think it's another part of the trend where the people who set the curriculum and methods don't understand child development. Basic facts and a timeline of major events need to come before exploring concepts and themes.
     
  4. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Nov 5, 2016

    I teach both ways currently. My world history course is chronological for the first semester (Europe from 1 to 1700) and then topical by civilization for the second. Teaching civs as different as the Mayans and Chinese at the same time seems like it would be a nightmare. Even then though each culture is taught chronologically within it's unit.

    For US history it is strictly chronological.

    There's a reason nearly every book, movie and TV follows a chronological structure - it is how our brains tend to work. The push to get away from that history is a political one to force the instruction of certain issues that normally wouldn't rate on a chronological scale.
     
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  5. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Nov 6, 2016

    I completely agree with your assessment, and was thinking the same thing. It was appropriate in college (as a history major) to enroll in concept-based classes because I already had a good idea of the major world time periods and events. Enrolling in the conceptual classes allowed me to dive deeper into topics I had some general knowledge about.

    I teach 7th grade. I can teach them major ideas/concepts (imperialism, economy, etc.) while teaching chronologically. If I teach them concepts in a topical manner, they will never truly understand how events and eras are connected and how ideas morphed over time.
     
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  6. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Nov 6, 2016

    You last statement is EXACTLY what I was fearing. I even spoke to my principal about that fear about a month back. He thinks like I do, and has told me to keep teaching it the way I've been teaching it.
     
  7. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Nov 7, 2016

    I can understand teaching units in this way. It would be really confusing to teach all of those cultures alongside one another in chronological order.

    Also, and this is getting more into the social justice side of things like you discuss, I understand studying Native American, African American, women's history, or other groups as a solid unit rather than broken up into pieces. For example, it might be more helpful to teach African American history from Slavery to post-slavery to the Civil Rights movement to issues today, rather than just talking about the history of African Americans solely in reference to the slave trade during the colonial life or the Civil War when those topics come up.

    But, it wouldn't make much sense to have a World Conflicts unit and study all of the major world wars at one time. That would just be an information overload.

    There is an important need to study history in both ways. History doesn't mean much without studying the connections and future implications of an event, but also it's important for kids to have that general timeline in their head, such as what they would get from a US History or World History course.
     
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  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Nov 7, 2016

    I have a feeling this is because of Common Core. I was just in a training today that showed lessons, all Common Core based. The trainer told us, that we have ELA, Math and now Science, but the trouble with coming up with History Common Core standards is that different states teach on a different timeline. One state might teach something in 4th grade, another in 5th and so on, and there is no agreement. they have to somehow figure it out.
    I think if they come up with this new plan, they can create Common Core standards and strands.

    I myself don't agree with it, history builds on itself, it absolutely must be taught chronologically.
    I can see why teaching it topically would be beneficial, such as "human suffering", "racism", etc, but only as a follow up after it was covered chronologically.

    Just my opinion, although I'm not a history teacher.
     
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  9. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Nov 7, 2016

    I wonder if while teaching chronologically, the concepts can also be grouped conceptually, perhaps in an ongoing graphic organizer.
     

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