Hoarding, Building Allies, Inefficiency, and the Power of “Yes” – Kim Young, the NCSS 2014 Global Understanding Award Recipient

Were you at the 94th Annual NCSS conference last month?  It was indeed an exciting conference, “Education professionals gathered last month in Boston to explore best practices and inquiry-based teaching of social studies, boosting well-rounded civic learning and building 21st-century skills and social studies disciplinary literacy.” If you were unable to attend the national conference, don’t fret.  A list of regional/state events for 2015 are posted here.

One of my personal highlights  was getting to  introduce this year’s winner of the Global Understanding Award, Kim Young.  Meeting her reminded me  anthropologist Anna Tsing ‘s 2005 work Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Tsing asserts

Tsing“Global connections are made in fragments- although some fragments are more powerful than others…they interrupt dominant stories of globalization to offer more realistic alternatives. Such fragments…create a world of global connections made, and muddled, in friction. Curiosity about such friction might reopen the mystery of our time.”

It take a special teacher to seek out experiences, fragmented and with potential friction, and share them with her students. Then, once back in the classroom, that same remarkable  teacher is able to inspire students about the narratives, realities, and friction of globalization. And, ultimately, those lucky students’ curiosity is sustained for their lifespan because of the teacher’s guidance.

 

I had the pleasure to interview one of those teachers, Kim Young.  Our exchange is below. Enjoy!

If you would like to contact Kim, you can do so with this email: youngk@weston.org

1- Tell us about yourself. How did you get into teaching? What and who do you teach?

NCSS2

Kim on one of her adventure, educational excursions…see what “Yes” can get you?!

Hello readers!  My name is Kim Young.  I’ve been teaching World History at Weston High School in Weston, Massachusetts for 10 years.  I’ve also helped spearhead many of my district’s efforts to globalize our curriculum as Global Education Coordinator.  I think I’m one of those people who have always been a teacher.  My mom was a teacher and my first jobs were as a camp counselor and coach. Growing up, I always remembered how my teachers presented lesson plans, and which methods were most engaging and effective.  I enjoy teaching because I get to live my passion for global cultures everyday.

2-  Who or what inspired you to apply to the NCSS award? How did you decide on your submission?

Necessity!  I am taking an unpaid leave from my teaching position this winter to pursue a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching grant.  I was scouring the internet for creative sources of funding and came across the NCSS Award.  Luckily, I have supportive colleagues who helped me with the process when I mentioned the idea to them.  I knew right away I would submit my “Complicating Conquest: Rethinking the Spanish Invasion of the Americas” curriculum.  I feel this is the most innovative and interesting piece of curriculum I’ve developed.  It is based entirely on visual, physical, and written primary sources I collected while traveling in Mexico and Peru.  The goals of the lessons are truly global and nothing you could ever find in a high school textbook.  I hope readers who teach the Age of Exploration or the European colonization of the Americas will check out the curriculum.

3- What have been some of the successes and challenges of using global perspectives with your students?

Great question.  As with many things, I think my greatest successes have come from my greatest challenges.  Recently, I’ve really been influenced by an article written by Milton J. Bennett on intercultural communication.  He writes, “Common sense is, of course, common only to a particular culture.” For 9th graders, developmentally, it is hard to understand the world from a different perspective.  I struggling with training (or retraining) students’ brains to observe and ask questions before making judgments—what my students often refer to as “Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.”  I feel most successful when I hear students using the words worldview, perspective, and subjectivity when talking about history. Moving students to action is also always challenging because in many ways, the traditional school day model does not support this type of learning.  Bennett writes, “Understanding objective culture may create knowledge, but it doesn’t necessarily generate competence.”  If my students are going to be truly globally competent, they need to act based on their emerging globalized perspective.

4- How have your colleagues reacted to your interest in global education?

Everyone is incredibly supportive, even if they don’t always understand why I want to travel to a certain location.  They ask me about all of my adventures and are open to trying out the new curricular ideas I bring back.  They collaborate with me about how to best support exchange students in our school.  They let me decorate their classroom with new artifacts I’ve brought back.  I am also very fortunate to have a district that has made promoting Global Education one of its 5 year goals.  What I do find most puzzling is when I meet educators who say, “I wish I could do what you do!”  For most educators, I don’t see many real reasons holding them back from pursuing different opportunities—you just have to apply.  Don’t be overwhelmed, you’ll be amazed at how things fall into place.

5- You showed us this painting during your presentation, The Last Supper by Marcos Zapata (1753, in the Cuzco Cathedral). Tell us about it and how it represents your approach to teaching students.

Last supper

Guinea Pig? “Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.”

I love this painting!  It is by Marcos Zapata and located in the Cusco Cathedral. This painting is totally representative of my teaching philosophy.  Firstly, it is visual.  I like to expose students to different types of sources—too often they think history only comes in text.  I try to emphasize to my students who struggle with reading that if they can remember images and know how to decode them, they can think just as analytically as when reading a document.  Secondly, it’s a primary source.  Once students have some context, I like them to work with primary sources since it helps them better understand the perspective of the culture they are studying.  This lends itself to my inquiry-based style of teaching. I like to give students evidence with guided questions and have them do the investigating.  This way students’ construct their own knowledge and learning.  Even if students forget what they learn, hopefully they’ve developed skills for investigating questions in the future.  In terms of content, this represents my style because I chose curriculum that emphasizes cultural fusion, cooperation, and interaction.  War, conflict, and domination are a part of history—this is a narrative of human interaction my students are familiar with.  I like to present a counter-narrative to open them up to other ways of viewing history and the world.  Finally, this image is engaging, funny, and a little weird (from an American cultural perspective).  Students remember this image because the idea of Jesus eating guinea pig is so far from their cultural norms.

6- You offered a lot of advise at NCSS.  Can you summarize those tips again?

Absolutely.  One of the best parts of winning the award was being able to present at NCSS. It’s a humbling and thought provoking experience to try and share with colleagues what I feel I’ve learned over the last ten years.  I also know that educators out there know what to do—we just get too busy, overwhelmed, or stressed.  With my presentation, I wanted to given educators permission to do the things we know make good curriculum.

My main message is that it is important to create curriculum with complexity—–and this is something I feel travel/study really allows educators to do.  This is how we can move away from textbook based curriculum and engage our students as global learners.  Based on my experiences in these programs, here’s my tips on how to make the best curriculum:

1)   Abandon efficiency—We never have time to plan during the year.  We have to be product driven and use every moment of our time to grade.  During summer professional development, give yourself permission to be inefficient.  Spend several weeks investigating a topic you are passionate about and interested in.  Don’t worry if it only produces one 50-minute lesson.

2)   Be a Hoarder—While this is not a culturally acceptable behavior from a Western perspective, in order to create great curriculum, you have to do this.  Take a picture of everything you see and collect every brochure, pamphlet, book, and artifact you can find.  Many times while traveling I do not fully understand the significance of an object until much later.  I come back, reflect, and look through all my discoveries.  Only then do I start to see how they might all connect.  I go back to pictures and pull out new images as my curriculum changes or as I learn more about a culture.

3)    Say “Yes”—Just like that awful Jim Carrey movie.  When I’m traveling and collecting curriculum, I say yes to every experience, food, and opportunity.  I am often tired, worn out, or uncertain of how something will go.  I’ve crashed a wedding, pet a tarantula, and jumped off bridges.  None of this was planned or on my itinerary.  All of these unexpected experiences gave me insight into cultures different than my own and have come back to influence my curriculum in ways I couldn’t imagine.

4)   Use your allies—I have several colleagues and administrators that I have developed relationships with that fully support my efforts.  Early in my career, I often would not apply for opportunities because I was nervous about bothering people for recommendations.  I was also worried what they would think of me (she thinks she is qualified to participate in THAT program?)   I was also afraid of what my colleagues would think of me if I asked for a recommendation and did not get into a program.  Over time, I have fully gotten over all of these insecurities!  Now, I know, even if its last minute (ie can you write me recommendation in the next 24 hours?), I have a supportive group around me that I am never afraid to ask for help.  I also bring them back really cool artifacts from wherever I go.

7-  What is next for you?

I’m headed off on my biggest global adventure yet—I will be working and studying in the West Bank from January to March of 2015 as part of a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching grant.  I am interested “breaking the binary”—Palestinian identity is often presented in secondary curriculum and Western media as being made up of two choices (ex. One state vs. Two state, Fata vs. Hamas, Israeli vs. Palestinian).  We all know in reality things are more grey than just being A or B.  I am specifically interested in investigating how to use the graphic arts and graphic novels to do this.  If any readers have contacts in the West Bank, please let me know!

8- If you could select three books, films, trips etc about global education for teachers what would they be?

Bennett, Milton, J. (1998). Intercultural communication: A current perspective. In Milton J. Bennett (Ed.), Basic concepts of shel-silverstein_reflection_peoplewhowriteintercultural communication: Selected readings. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Silverstien, Shel.  “Reflection,” in A Light in the Attic, Harper Collins (1981).

I can’t choose one trip!  But here is the list of all the international professional development experiences I know about.

Link to NCSS presentation (https://www.haikudeck.com/p/Xd7v1SUL1p/ncss)

 

If you would like to contact Kim, you can do so with this email: youngk@weston.org

 

Global Citizenship, Contemporary Education, and the Cosmopolitan World View

Happy International Education Week! Did you know it was that time of year again or that this is the 15th annual installment? In a recent press statement Secretary of State, John Kerry notes “During this week, literally thousands of events will be held around the world to highlight the benefits of global learning and student exchanges. To understand why this is important, we have only to consider the consequences when people lack what international education provides – namely an objective understanding ofglobe-question-mark the world that exists outside the narrow boundaries of our own communities and lives.”

Sounds great!  In fact one of these  great events is the Global Education Conference, This is a must to explore, collaborate, and watch archived sessions. In fact Tuesday night at 7:00pm EST I will be part of a panel, Session Title: Lesson For All: the right of education and the barriers worldwide SESSION LINK https://sas.elluminate.com/d.jnlp?sid=2008350&password=GEC15Part26

However, in a potentially confusing move, President Obama released this press statement the same day as Kerry’s proclaiming Nov 16-22, the same as International Week, as “American Education Week.” Huh?!  The President declared:

“In a complex world, we must meet new and profound challenges.  As a Nation, we must prepare the next generation to face these issues and the problems of their own time.  An education equips the leaders of tomorrow with the knowledge and vision they need to discover the solutions of the future and build a better society for their children and grandchildren. This week, we honor the IEW2012teachers, mentors, and professionals who guide our kids as they explore the world.”

Does this set of educational dichotomies bring ambiguity and confusion – national/international,  global/local, narrow boundaries/explore the world. Can this be sorted out?  Ok, challenge accepted, I’ll give it a try and look forward to your insights. As my entry point let’s take a travel back in time so we can put our present and future work around global education in proper perspective.

It has been nearly a year since Johns Hopkins professor Jakub Grygiel authored an article in the Washington Post  titled “There’s no Such Thing As a Global Citizen” .   This was certainly an interesting article to engage with and have shared it with other educators, most recently with IREX’s Teachers For Global Classrooms program, for their insights.  Grygiel, an international politics scholar is missing the mark when he engages in a concept outside of his field. Let’s look at four ways his piece doesn’t jive with contemporary efforts in global education.

  • He applies his paradigm of international relations to the field of education – “schools like mine are  increasingly being called upon to educate “global citizens” who belong to the world rather than to their nation of birth or state of choice.”

It is highly likely that the school, university, or organization you work for has some explicit or implied conceptualization of global citizenship in a policy, vision, mission statement, or practice. For example, Fairfax County Public Schools has initiated a

Acknowledges and understands diverse perspectives and cultures when considering local, national, and world issuesContributes to solutions that benefit the broader communityCommunicates effectively in multiple languages to make meaningful connectionsPromotes environmental stewardshipUnderstands the foundations of our country and values our rights, privileges and responsibilitiesDemonstrates empathy, compassion and respect for othersActs responsibly and ethically to build trust and lead

new vision for students, Portrait of a Graduate, which includes the theme “Ethical and Global Citizen.” Please note the 5th descriptor (bold/underlined) and its overt connection to the nation.  This is not surprising. What Grygiel misses,  due to the limits of his field, is that when schools address global citizenship, they are talking about fostering a world view  and habits-of-mind which compliment globalization. This type of education is not about addressing a legal distinction or an implied threat to nationalism.

Well, I can’t claim to know why Grygiel selected this organization as the definitive explanation of global citizenship.  I would have gone to any of the statements and models by these organizations who, no offense Oxfam, do it better. Explore for yourself – Asia Society,  World Savvy, World Affairs Council, Kosmos, IREX, IIE,  US Department of Education,  the list can go on.  But to sum up in one quote from professor John Willinsky, “Education remains a voyage of discovery, a journey in search of a larger world.” These other frameworks offer more insight into global citizenship.

  • He claims nationalism and identify are synonyms – “They (citizens) stand on the battlefield or in the public square for the love of their community… from this love…arises a sense of responsibility that motivates us to act and serves as a yardstick for our actions.  Without it, action is senseless and rudderless.”

The 1965  work, Is Paris Burning? eloquently narrates the the liberation of Paris in the late Summer of 1944. The title of the book is the Fuhrer’s final communique to the commander he had ordered to turn Paris  “into a field of ruins”, General Dietrich von Choltitz.   Von Choltitz’s refusal to follow Hitler’s order is evidence of a sensible moral compass not defined by national identity. His, dare I say, act of global citizenship saved the city of light. According to French General Koenig, von Choltitz “had more friends in France than he has in Germany.”

isparisburningtop

 

 

Another way to look at this is the through Gordon Brown’s TED video which addresses these questions: Can the interests of an individual nation be reconciled with humanity’s greater good? Can a patriotic, nationally elected politician really give people in other countries equal consideration?

  • He equates current globalization to Marxist endeavors – “Local conditions… could be addressed only by the global vision of a united proletariat. The project… in the end…was a failure. I suspect the current global citizenship movement will follow suit.”

Grygiel’s closing sentiment is, at best, a ridiculous scare tactic, and at its worse an insult to any benevolence performed by a human in one location to that in another in the name of compassion and solidarity.  It is important to recall and celebrate the realities (and subsequent possibilities) performed by individuals who have internalized global citizenship.  What do we make of Eleanor Roosevelt’s supposed impossible task of unifying the United Nations around Universal Human rights?


Professor William Gaudelli’s 2009 article Heuristics of Global Citizenship Discourses towards Curriculum Enhancement, researches five different “types” of global citizenship ideologies: neoliberal, nationalist, Marxist, world justice/governance, and cosmopolitan. While these are not intended to be exhaustive of those ideas in play, I select them for a few reasons. First, they represent a fairly wide swath of global discourse from various points on the political and epistemological landscape. Second, while there are clearly points of agreement among them, there are also tensions, allowing for a more robust conversation.  And third, each has a counterpart in curriculum, and manifests in schools in a discernible manner that sets it apart from others.”  Take a look at his visual.  More importantly, note  Grygiel’s limited denunciation of global citizenship as a Marxist legacy..

Gaudelli Image

Global Citizenship: The Legacy of Cosmopolitanism

What is cosmopolitanism? In the 4th century BCE, the classical Greek Cynic, and contemporary  of Plato, Diogenes, claimed “I am a citizen of the world” thus rooting the cosmopolitan ethic in western cosmology. This legacy can be traced through a variety of historical sign posts, of which some are identified here.

In 1637 Rene Descartes, in his famous and widely influential work Discourse on Method wrote  “It is useful to something of the manners of different nations, that we may be enabled to form a more correct judgement regarding our own, and be prevented from thinking that everything contrary to our customs is ridiculous and irrational  – a conclusion usually come to by those whose experience has been limited to their own country.”

Immanuel Kant’s 18th cosmopolitan philosophy focuses on the roll of law, citizenship, nations, and the economy. He predicted people would be part of a global civil order governed by lawful associations.  However, Kant argued that “cosmopolitan citizens still needed their individual republics to be citizens at all.”  He made sure that he used the phrase “world federation” not “world government.”  Typically, people think of the League of Nations or the United Nations.  Another Kantian example is the The Maastricht Treaty which integrated European nations around one currency.

Fast forward to the 20th century to Graham Greene’s musing in the novel Our Man in Havana “There are many countries in our blood, aren’t there, but only one person. Would the world be in the mess it is if we were loyal to love and not to countries?”  This is a fantastic sentiment that is often drowned out by the drums of war.

To close this post, I end at a monument about 2 miles from where I write this, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.  His quote often surprises people I share it with because of it cosmopolitan view.

“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” Christmas sermon, Atlanta, Georgia, 1967.

Ok, one more video…its worth it!

 

Enjoy your week!

Globalizing the US History Survey: Free, Self-Paced, Online, Collaborative, Professional Development Modules

I am extremely happy to announce the launch of the project Globalizing US History Survey: Free, Self-Paced, Online, Collaborative, Professional Development Modules 

We feel this project is ideal for the demands of the AP US History Course, IB History of Americas, the Common Core, and any US History course state standards.  Teachers, curriculum specialists, scholars, and anyone interested in this topic are welcome to engage with this project.

For a general overview, checkout this screencast about the project! 

If you can’t wait and want to get right in here is the project link:

 

We just want to repeat… this project is a 100% free professional development opportunity that utilizes social media, self-pacing, and professional collaboration.

Background

The concept was part of my graduate work at Northeastern University during my MA in History in 2011.  Subsequently. the project was funded by the Longview Imagegenerosity of the Longview Foundation and was created in partnership with the NCHE. A major inspiration for my thinking was the 2000 La Pierta Report. The report welcomed the 21st century with a challenge to US history educators everywhere.  I encourage you to read the entire piece. I have placed some main vision excerpts below:

“National history remains important, and will of course continue to be so in the future. But the national history we are describing resituates the nation as one of many scales, foci, and themes of historical analysis. Our students and public audiences will gain a heightened sense of nation-making…

BannerGlobal2By looking beyond the official borders of the United States and back again, students, we anticipate, will better understand the emergence of the United States in the world and the significance of its direct power and presence. We expect them to understand the controversial power and presence of the United States as a symbol beyond our borders. We hope students will gain a historical comprehension of the difference between being a peripheral colony and a powerful nation, and they will be introduced to some of the large historical processes, not all contained within the nation, that might explain such a shift in the geography of global power…

We believe that there is a general societal need for such enlarged historical understanding of the United States. We hope that the history curriculum at all levels, not only in colleges and universities but also in the K-12 levels will address itself to these issues… It is essential that college and university departments–which carry the responsibility for training historians who will teach at the K-12 levels–begin this work of integration…

The United States history survey course is properly a focal point for the creation of an internationalized American history. If in the survey course one embraces the simple advice to follow the people, the money, the knowledges, and the things, one would quite easily–on the basis of pure empiricism–find oneself internationalizing the study of American history.”

The Project

Recent trends have called for the “globalizing” of American education through 21st Century teaching and learning and the Common Core State Standards. These educational demands coincide with efforts in the history profession to internationalize the United States history survey course. Combined, these two paradigm shifts have generated demand to construct and teach histories that are rigorous and relevant in preparation for college and career readiness. Globalizing history education, therefore, involves an “opening” of students’ conceptions of the past through expanded content, broader methodology, and units of analysis that go beyond the nation. Preparing history teachers to do this is integral to the longevity and success of global education. This project addresses gaps in thought leadership and the scarcity of professional development programs dedicated to globalizing the U.S. history survey.Globe

At the core of this project are five modules participants engage with at their own pace. The predicted time to complete each module is 6 hours. The five project modules, listed below, span the 20th century

 Each module has a similar structure and features. In addition to selected primary and secondary sources/media,  five scholars created presentations unique to this project.

  • Gregg Brazinsky – George Washington University
  • Joseph R. Golowka –  Binghamton University
  • Greg Adler – Eastside Union High School District
  • Eric D. Pullin –  Carthage College
  • P. Masila Mutisya – North Carolina Central University

Also, Dr. Peter Stearns was generous enough to lend his support of the project. He notes “”A more global framework creates new perspectives, and some fresh challenges, making American history a livelier experience and, of course, linking it to other history courses in a less fragmented way. Ultimately, I would suggest, a global approach to American history lets us deal with three key, and difficult, questions – important ones, but tough ones as well.” See his full recording here.

In addition, each module had multiple  teacher reviewers give feedback on the functionality,aesthetic, structure, clarity, utility, and resources of the modules.  Their insight was invaluable.

A View of Professional Development for Educators

This style of PD challenges the utility of the large conference.  These tend to be a one size fits all approach which ignores the personalization we celebrate in contemporary education with our students.  Often, these presentations demand little to nothing form participants. Yet, you still get credit hours/points for just being there.  This is hardly a 21st century approach for our profession.

This project celebrates teacher creativity, agency, leadership, and content expertise . It requires participants to generate resources and contribute content knowledge for the network to use. Upon completion of a module, participants will receive a PD certificate emailed from the NCHE to add to your professional file.

Spread the Word

Access to the project and  the 5 PD modules is through Blackboard Coursesites a free LMS.  It utilizes a self-enrolling policy, so sign right up.

Please spread the word by sharing the link below with your colleagues and network.  Enjoy and we look forward to your insights and feedback!

 

 

 

 

Content, Context, and Global Education: New World History Resources for High School Teachers

Contemporary educational paradigms, impacted by concepts of and outcomes from globalization, have inspired schools to establish their vision of the “global” typically housed in schools’ and districts’ mission statements.   Interpretations of global education vary in name, including, but not limited to qualifiers such as “citizenship”, “competency”, “awareness”, and “literacy.”  Of course, regardless of the wording,  how students are provided global  educational experiences  will be based on the commitment of the school community to the global turn.  At the low end is unsupported lip service to globalization in schooling.  On the flip side is a dedication to support integrated change within the system. This is no small feat consoderign that the structure is typically rigid and often restricted by expected outcomes which don’t complement the aspirations of global education.

Schools, however, are not destined to “go global” on their own. Multiple conferences and institutions promote ways of incorporating global perspectives in education. Explore the collection of instituions below  to get an idea of how global education can be brought to your school and what avenues would be the best method of implementation.

  •  World Savvy:  In a world that is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before, the challenges and opportunities we face are becoming increasingly global in scope, and it is critical that our schools and educators teach for global competence, so all students can be prepared with the knowledge, skills and dispositions for success in the 21st century.
  • The Asia Society: The globalization of business, the advances in technology, and the acceleration of migration increasingly require the ability to work on a global scale. As a result of this new connectivity, our high school graduates will need to be far more knowledgeable about world regions and global issues, and able to communicate across cultures and languages
  • IIE: Peace and prosperity around the world depend on increasing the capacity of people to think and work on a global and intercultural basis. Take our quiz, see where you stand as a global citizen, and open your mind to the world.
  • Primary Source: Primary Source offers a rich variety of professional development programs for K-12 educators. With the aim of connecting teachers to people and cultures around the world, we provide learning opportunities in the content areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States.
  • P21: Learning from and working collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue in personal, work and community contexts.
  • IREX:  The Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) Program provides a year-long professional development opportunity for middle and high school teachers from the United States to participate in a program aimed at globalizing teaching and learning in their classrooms.

The Content/Curriculum Option

One belief the organizations listed above have in common concerns the use of content and curriclum standards to implement global education trends.  In History education, this often refers to the rethinking of the “nation” as the dominant unit of analysis or way to engage the past (a previous blog also addressed this idea).

For the example, in this the TED talk presented by Farleigh Dickinson professor Jason Scorza, the concept of the American Dream is internationalized, trans-nationalized, and even (wait for it) humanized. In essence, global perspectives on history content challenges that there is any such thing as a purely national event in the past.  Instead, the past is full of networks and systems that are not magicall limited by the borders of the nation-state.

Dr. Scorza’s flexible context, and varying thematic and perspective lenses problematizes the concept of the American Dream.  Also, did you note his two claims about how to define global education? Confronting the binary he establishes ultimately helps clarify an organization’s views and subsequent expectations for administrators, teachers, and students. However, it is his rendering of the past as a non-national place that ultimately provides a fruitful inroad to teaching the past from a global perspective.

Recently the College Board embraced this methodology  in their revision of the heralded AP US History course.  A new theme “US in the World” requires teachers to engage in historical renderings beyond the comfortable national narrative previously endorsed. Well done College Board. Here is what they say:

Learning Objectives by Theme:  America in the World (WOR) In this theme, students should focus on the global context in which the United States originated and developed as well as the influence of the United States on world affairs. Students should examine how various world actors (such as people, states, organizations, and companies) have competed for the territory and resources of the North American continent, influencing the development of both American and world societies and economies. Students should also investigate how American foreign policies and military actions have affected the rest of the world as well as social issues within the United States itself.

Ok, that looks good.  The teachers have been challenged. So where does that leave us?  The good news is there are robust content options and resources, especially in the field of World Hisotry that can be used to globalize the US History Survey.  The four I have listed below provide a raneg of resources, lesson, links etc that can be adapted and easily implemented to your US, Regional, and World History courses.  Take a look at what they offer and enjoy!
  • The Global Campaign For Education, US Chapter:   The Coalition promotes access to education as a basic human right and mobilizes the public to create political will in the U.S. and internationally to improve education for the world’s poorest children. GlobalCampaignEducation  They utilize this global competency matrix for their curriculum and resources, Lesson For All.  The Lesson for All curriculum for high school has a series of 9 lessons for History/Geography, Economics, and Government/Civics.    The resources provide relevant, problem based lessons which seek to develop students’ critical thinking and application of knowledge.  Together they establish a forum to synthesize pedagogical best practices, instructional design, global perspectives, and social studies content.  Overall,  the modules seek to empower students by having them contextualize their educational realities,  construct meaning about their learning experiences in the past and present, and envision a pathway for their future.
  •  Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean:  The Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University is pleased to announce the release of Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: A World History Curriculum Project for Educators. The work provides oursharedpasteducators with a set of interdisciplinary lesson materials featuring the geography and history of the Mediterranean in the context of world history from ancient times to the present. The Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean curriculum is free under Creative Commons License and available online.  The resources are currently being piloted by teachers and received great feedback from World Historian Patrick Manning, Andrew Mellon Professor of World History at the University of Pittsburgh, found the project helpful to the world history teaching profession, writing:
     “The modules and the process of preparing them are exemplary in gathering a wide range of educational materials on the Mediterranean over a long period of time, in world-historical context…It is a really rich collection of materials, showing the degree to which historical scholarship has advanced on many aspects of Mediterranean history, and giving teachers and students a feast of possibilities in linking the many types of information into a comprehensive picture of the unfolding of life in this region.
  •  The Alliance for Learning in World History:   The Alliance is a collaboration of educators and history scholars organized to advance the teaching and learning of world history in classroomshands—in the U.S. and in every part of the world. The Alliance is anchored at the University of Pittsburgh, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).In curriculum, the Alliance seeks to replace outdated existing courses – treating  world history as a sequence of isolated civilizations – with curricula that address the global and interactive development of human society, relying on the latest historical research. In professional development, the Alliance encourages comprehensive programs for in-service teachers that bring them to a high level in working with historical thinking skills and in becoming familiar with world-historical content and debates. In educational research, the Alliance supports critical study of every
    aspect of the learning process: student learning, learning by teachers, and teacher preparation.

 

  • Global Issues: Connecting content to the present is an effective way to make studying the past relevant and encourgaes students to construct meaning about what they stglobal issuesudy. This website presents numerous global issues, aiming to show how they are inter-related. The topics are common global ones; the environment, nuclear profliferation, poverty, human rights…  In addition to the blogs unique articles, it provides a robust set of links and features news articles from arond the world.

The 128th American Historical Association Annual Conference: A Great Way to Start 2014 (and engage all three areas of the brain)

Our reptilian part of our brain is about 300 million years old.  It makes sure we feed and reproduce, and decides between fighting and Triune-Brainrunning.  The second oldest brain section is our limbic area which influences our emotional stage. Isolation isn’t the key here. Staying in touch, socializing, being part of a collective is important.  Lastly, the Neo-cortex developed  about 4 million years ago on the evolutionary calendar. It is responsible for, among other functions, our intellect and curiosity.  You are using this part of your brain to understand what I am typing right now (although the limbic part may be engaged in joyous celebration of this post ;).

The defined brain sections/functions above, however, fail to emphasize the wholistic properties of our brain.  Learning, for example, is impacted by all three areas (ever try to learn while hungry or emotionally unengaged?).  By learning, I also include educator professional  development and networking.  Last weekend, the 128th annual conference of the American Historical Association was held in Washington D.C. The AHA conference was indeed a wholistic brain experience.

Interview with Dr. James Grossman, AHA Executive Director at AHA 2014:

Below I have assembled notes, links, comments etc on the presentations and sessions I attended.  In addition, check out the twitter feed  #AHA2014. I hope you are able to harvest much from what is provided. I found the conference to talk directly  to a passage in a text I am reading for work:

“By “impact resource”, I mean something that makes a particular teaching point in a vivid and powerful way; something that stays in a learners’ minds long after the lesson has gone. It is often something that disturbs learners previous understandings, or which problematises the issue or concept in a way that makes learners think further about it. It also encourages  dialogic learning, whereby learners are sufficientily interested by the resource that they are willing to clarify and modify their understanding through discussion with others. It intrigues learners to the extent that they are prepared to play an active part in constructing meaning themselves.”  Terry Haydn Using New Technologies to Enhance Teaching and Learning in History 

The impact resources Haydn notes came in a variety of forms last weekend. Conversations, posts, handouts, presentations…the conference should be on history educators radar. The AHA’s efforts to provide sessions to secondary history teachers is also noteworthy. I look forward to future developments and opportunities in this arena.  Overall, this year’s conference was (besides the puzzlingly long line for coffee) a whole brain experience which exemplified conference professional development. Next year the conference is in New York City.  See you there.  Enjoy.

 

 

AHASession: Publishing History Digitally: New Formats, New Audiences, and New Challenges
Presenters/Panel: Daniel CohenCharles HomansChris HeaneyYoni Applebaum

Central Question(s): How can historians and history educators best communicate with the public?

Talking Points: The democratization of historical information production is alive and well. Digital publishing, academic blogs, online journals and the like regularly reach larger audiences, can utilize social and multi-media components, and can engage the present with an “historical voice” in real time.  Digital history, in short, is not a constrained like its “cookie cutter” journal and book bound counterparts.  Still, digital historians are using the same skill set as paper historians, just in a new medium.  This presentation was a great way to start the conference as it framed history education in a dynamic 21st century frame. Check out the  digital history resources below.

Resources:

  • The Appendix: The Appendix is a quarterly journal of experimental and narrative history; though at times outlandish, everything in its pages is as true as the sources allow. The Appendix solicits articles from historians, writers, and artists committed to good storytelling, with an eye for the strange and a suspicion of both jargon and traditional narratives
  • Ultimate History Project:   The Ultimate History Project, an online history journal for history lovers. The site  encourages faculty members to write for the general public and it provides a forum for academically trained historians to work alongside independent historians, curators, preservationists, and others.
  • History News Network:   Our mission is to help put current events into historical perspective. Given how public opinion is shaped today, whipsawed emotionally on talk shows this way and that in response to the egos of the guests, the desire for ratings by the hosts and the search for profits by media companies and sponsors, historians are especially needed now. They can help remind us of the superficiality of what-happens-today-is-all-that-counts journalism. Each week HNN features up to a dozen fresh op eds by prominent historians. Our archives, extending over the past decade, include thousands of well-researched pieces.

Session: Building a Career around the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in History
Presenters/Panel: T. Mills KellyRobert Johnston Joel SipressLaura Westhoff

Central Question(s): When is teaching an intellectual act?  When is lecturing an effective instructional method?

Talking Points:  Teaching should be a meaningful act, an intellectual act, a reflective act, an intentional act. My second session at the conference was outstanding.  It celebrated the community that exists around teaching and learning and, more importantly, invites educators to enter and contribute to that community.  Cognitive and neuro science developments are changing our practice.  Those who stay in tune with those developments separates the wheat from the chaff, the pearl from the oyster.  A final note about the concept of the lecture as an instructional practice.  When asked about its utility, panelists noted that the best lectures will be short and dynamic,  introduce a new idea/concept and inspire/challenge listeners to ask how they will engage with that idea (think TED presentations not powerpoint presentations that are designed to convey items ‘you need to know’ UGH!).

Resources:

  • Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey: History professors say the darnedest things. Like the one who summed up his teaching philosophy declaring, “If I said it, that means they learned it!” Or the colleague who scoffed at “trendy” educational reforms because, as she put it, “You can’t teach students how to think until you’ve taught them what to think.”
  • Carnegie Academy for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: The CASTL Program sought to support the development of a scholarship of teaching and learning that: fosters significant, long-lasting learning for all students; enhances the practice and profession of teaching, and; brings to faculty members’ work as teachers the recognition and reward afforded to other forms of scholarly work.
  • International Society For The Scholarship Of Teaching & Learning:  serves faculty members, staff, and students who care about teaching and learning as serious intellectual work. The goal of the Society is to foster inquiry and disseminate findings about what improves and articulates post-secondary learning and teaching.
  • History’s Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880-1940  Robert B. Townsend, a longtime deputy director of the American Historical Association (AHA), has written a perceptive study examining the growth and fragmentation of America’s historical profession. He begins by reminding readers that professional historians once saw their enterprise “as a vast panorama of activity” encompassing “popular history making, school teaching, and the work of historical societies.”
  • When Teachers Talk Outside of School: In 1927, a schoolteacher in Secaucus, N.J., named Helen Clark lost her teaching license. The reason? Somebody had seen her smoking cigarettes after school hours…Today, teachers can be suspended, and even fired, for what they write on Facebook.

Session: American Academy of Arts and Sciences Report on the Humanities and Social Sciences
Presenters/Panel: Earl LewisSusan Griffin Anthony Grafton James GrossmanClaire Bond PotterEstevan Rael-Galvez

Central Question(s): What were the achievements and shortcomings of “The Heart of the Matter.” ? How critical is the state of humanities in education?

Talking Points: Panelists reflected on and discussed the tone and substance of Academy’s 2013 release (video below). Where some questioend the context of the data set used in the report about humanities majors (recognizing the 1980s as a more dire period) they were hopeful in the ways the report can be help stimulate conversations about and the practice of history education.  Of note was the potential of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s role in communicating the benefits of historical inquiry with the public.  Another key point emphasized teachers’ expectations for their students and the role of assessments’ impact on pedagogy.   Educating employers about the benefits of history education has led to an awareness of the tranfersabiltiy of historical thinking and skill sets to a myriad of occupations.  Where the panel was preaching to the choir at the conference, it is now imperative to continue to evangelize the humanities’ benefits to the public at large.

Resources:

  • College, Career, and Civic Life Framework:
  • Video By Kathy Swan Presenting the C3 framework:
  • AHA Tuning Project:  History is a set of evolving rules and tools that allows us to interpret the past with clarity, rigor, and an appreciation for interpretative debate.  As a discipline, history entails a set of professional ethics and standards that demand peer review, citation, and toleration for the provisional nature of knowledge.
  • Article on the Harvard Humanities Report: “The report is informative and reasonable, and its suggestions are constructive. But its impact has not been what its authors probably intended.”
  • The Longview Foundation:  “At the dawn of the 21st century, knowledge of other peoples, economies, languages and international affairs has become a necessity for every child. The skill set required to prepare tomorrow’s citizens for the global age must go beyond the “the basics” and even beyond the growing emphasis on science, math, and technology skills. Today’s students need opportunities to gain broad and deep global knowledge and the language and intercultural skills to engage effectively with people around the corner and around the world.”


Session: Teaching Historiographical Debate in the World History Classroom
Presenters/Panel: Lauren JanesPhyllis Conn Rodney McCaslin Clif Stratton Eva Swidler

Central Question(s): How are debates about the past relevant in the present? What historical theories are used in classes?

Talking Points: The presentation made explicit connections to the demands of the Common Core on history education.  In fact historiography and historical theory are required by the standards.  Just take a look at a sample of standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.3 Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.

One presenter described teaching historiography to students this way: It is like a party where groups geHorsey - History Cartoont together and are talking about their view of the past. We can go over to each group and listen in on the Marxists, Post-modernists, Environmentalists, Globalists, Annales etc.  Occasionally someone may walk to another group and chime in or synthesize an idea. The point emphasizes that we construct our understanding of the past, and argue about…it also clarifies that history is not an exercise in memorization. Assessments are mega-important in reinforcing this practice.

One lesson suggestion: Have students write their own biography in a short essay. Then have them write it again using a different school of thought or perspective. Both are equally true, but what was emphasized changed. People and events were marginalized or silenced. Agency changed. So it is in learning, constructing, and evaluating historical understanding.

Resources:

  • ChronoZoom: an educational tool for teachers and students who want to put historical events in perspective. Use ChronoZoom to get a perspective of the extensive scale of time and historical events relative to what happened around the world.
  • Historiography The research interests of historians change over time, and in recent decades there has been a shift away from traditional diplomatic, economic and political history toward newer approaches, especially social and cultural studies.
  • Different schools of historiography:The link refers to  a brief glimpse of the definitions of the different schools of historiography.
  • Schools of history flashcards: Vocabulary words for Schools of History. Includes studying games.
  • Prezi on Historiography:   A comprehensive presentation
  • Another Prezi on Historiography: Good for a flipped approach.

 

Session: What Should a 21st Century History Textbook Look Like
Presenters/Panel:  Mary Dougherty–  Robert BainScott CasperSuzanne McCormackMary Beth Norton

Central Question(s): What is the potential of digital resources?

Talking Points:  The textbook is a curious thin. Classes still assign them and teachers, students, and parents still argue their utility. Digital resources, personalization, and information access all make the print copy rather obsolete.  Augmenting the textbook with multimedia and interactive features is possible now.  Moreover…they can be cheap, or free.  So, what role does the textbook take in your class? Is it THE resource, or A resource. This is a central question for teaching and learning.  Another one is… do you still assign reading, tell students to take notes, and then go over them in class? If so, it is time to rethink what you are doing as an educator.

Resources:

  • The Big History Project: BHP works with a wide range of educators, scientists, writers, curriculum experts, and artists to bring the ideas of big history to life and provide students of all ages with unique views into different fields of knowledge
  • Flat World Knowledge: You can create the perfect book for your course in minutes with our fast and easy online editor. Add, delete and rearrange content to match your syllabus and improve student success.
  • Merlot: is a free and open peer reviewed collection of online teaching and learning materials and faculty-developed services contributed and used by an international education community.
  • College Open Textbooks: is a collection of colleges, governmental agencies, education non-profits, and other education-related organizations that are focused on the mission of driving awareness, adoptions**, and affordability of open textbooks. Our focus is on community colleges and other 2-year institutions of higher education and the first two years (lower division) of 4-year institutions. Some of our activities also apply to K-12, upper division, graduate school, and life-long learning.
  • CK-12: Services like CK-12 make it easy for teachers to assemble their own textbooks. Content is mapped to a variety of levels and standards including common core. You can start from scratch or build from anything the the FlexBooks library.
  • College Open Textbook: the first open-licensed U.S. History textbook that follows the course for the College Board Advanced Placement exam. It addresses the needs of one of the most popular courses at two-year colleges in a very affordable format.


Session: The Historical Enterprise: Past, Present, and Future Collaboration between Secondary History Teachers and University History Professors
Presenters/Panel:  Robert TownsendTimothy GreeneLinda Symcox

Central Question(s): Why, how and for what purposes should secondary and higher education be bridged?

Talking Points: Teachers and professors engaging in projects, dialogues, and research about history education is a powerful exercise. Whether this is done in person or virtually, such collaboration expands the classroom context and  yields opportunities for teachers and students alike.  TAH was a watershed, bridging the K-12 and higher education, with intent, for years.  My experiences with two TAH grants were indeed positive. Those times are gone… now it is up to you to seek out, nurture and apply collaborative efforts fore your students sake.

Resources:

  • Bridging the Gap: On Ways to Improve Collaboration… Interesting paper on the topic.
  • The California History-Social Science Project: is a K–16 collaborative of historians, teachers, and affiliated scholars dedicated to the pursuit of educational excellence in history and social science. The organization exists to improve and advocate for history education, promote teacher development, and facilitate leadership opportunities.
  • History Blueprint: The History Blueprint aims to revolutionize history instruction.  It combines innovative curriculum, assessment tools, student literacy support, and teacher professional development, aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

 


Session: Professional Development In World History Education: The Alliance Project
Presenters/Panel: Patrick ManningLinda CargileRoss E. DunnTim KeirnDavid Neumann

Central Question(s): What Professional Development is available for high school world history teachers?  How is the Alliance for World History learning impacting secondary history education?

Talking Points:  Resources for history education are bountiful.  Finding the best programs, resources, and opportunities can be dauntingWell, get ready to put these guys on your radar. The Alliance Project is poised to set the bar high for World History professional development. They provide the resources, you and your school provide the context and implementation… as you see fit. The Alliance provides support and a network of educators.  Your school system doesn’t have to hire a consultant!  Your department and/or central office just needs the leadership to carry the program through.  The Alliance is still developing its resources, webpage, and other features. Keep their contact information close . You won’t want to miss out on this PD program.

Resources:

  • The World History Center at U Pitt: The World History Center at the University of Pittsburgh emphasizes research, teaching, and international collaboration on the global past, with attention to policies for the global future.
  • “Why Study World History”: by J. Bentley-  Practicing world historians rarely address the question ‘why study world history?’  This is unfortunate because world history is one of the big intellectual issues of our times.
  • World History: The Big Eras: World History: The Big Eras is a fine example of how widening the lens through which we view the human past helps students and teachers make sense of all the myriad details and events of history in a way that is not overwhelming, but refreshing and enlightening.  The authors are all very experienced at considering the whole of the past, not just fragments of it, and in their introduction offer powerful endorsements the “big history” approach.
  • World History for Us All: World History for Us All is a national collaboration of K-12 teachers,
    collegiate instructors, and educational technology specialists. World History for Us All is a powerful, innovative model curriculum for teaching world history in middle and high schools.
  • Our Shared Past Grants: Together, the five winning projects will help lay the foundation for a growing coalition of scholars and teachers committed to improving and promoting the teaching of world history in schools throughout the US, UK and the Mediterranean region. Through curriculum development, course assessment and teacher training, the projects will help shift from an “us and them” approach to teaching world history to one that focuses on the rich economic, scientific, social and religious interplay between diverse cultures.


Session: The Future of AP History: Designing and Assessing a “Best Practices” History Curriculum
Presenters/Panel:   Allison ThurberTed Dickinson Laura MitchellVictoria Thompson

Central Question(s): How has the College Board embraced historical thinking skills? In what ways are AP history courses changing?

Talking Points:  The College Board is on board with Historical Thinking Skills!  I love it. The US  and Europe course revisions include a theme placing those national/regional histories in a global context. Well done indeed.  These are praiseworthy changes and set a tone for advancing the possibilities of historical inquiry and argumentation.  I ask my students to identify a skill/skill set they want to develop in our history course. Often, this is a new request. Students typically enter the course feeling history is a luxury/requirement they will engage with via memorization and cute stories.  They come around, mostly. Likewise, teachers should be able to identify what skill/skill set their lessons are targeting for development.  In a content-first profession, this is a paradigm shift.  I agree… it is. And it is a much needed one.

Resources:

  • AP US History Redesign: The redesign of the AP U.S. History course and exam accomplishes two major goals. It maintains AP U.S. History’s strong alignment with the knowledge and skills taught in introductory courses at the college level. It also offers teachers the flexibility to focus on specific historical topics, events, and issues in depth. The redesigned course begins in fall 2014, and the first AP Exam based on the redesigned course will be administered in May 2015.
  • AP Euopean History Redesign: AP European History’s strong alignment with the knowledge and skills taught in introductory courses at the college level. They also offer teachers the flexibility to focus on specific historical topics, events, and issues in depth.The redesigned course begins in fall 2015, followed by the revised AP Exam in May 2016.
  • AP History Thinking Skills: New exams  will assess students’ application of the historical thinking skills (chronological reasoning, comparing and contextualizing, crafting historical arguments using historical evidence, and interpreting and synthesizing historical narrative) valued by colleges and universities as central to studying history.

 

Magritte’s Windows: Using Narrative, Connectivity, and History to Develop Students’ Worldview

History and the “Past” aren’t synonyms. The past is the totality of time that occurs before the “Now.”As stated in the ubiquitous opening line of L. P. Hartley’s  novel The Go-Between, The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”  


Also, history is not an external truth to be memorized.  Have you heard student’s lament “Just tell us what to know (dates, events, and people please).” This passive posture is endemic. It is a major challenge to break down students’ perception of history as a course in memorization when that is the model of teaching used by colleagues.

History isn’t a timeline; a singular projection of events, people, groups etc. Chronology can give insight into a student’s understanding of the past, but it is not an elevated, critical thinking task.

History doesn’t repeat itself.  It doesn’t DO anything.  That is because history isn’t an external force, or a prime mover, or reified force. In addition, claims to inevitability as part of the human experience make me cringe.  (Next time you mess up, tell the authority “Well, sorry but it had to happen, my behavior was inevitable… I was just carrying out destiny’s will.  Let me know how that goes.).

So what is history?  History is a constructed understanding of the past. It is part of an individual or collective world view which changes over time due to experiences, perspectives, beliefs, hopes etc.   In turn, how we engage with the past, and recognizing  the meta-cognitive aspects of this venture, impacts our identity.  Indeed, recognizing an identity, memory, and history nexus  is an architecture for self-understanding.indexPaul

For students in high school, teaching history in this fashion, as a personal construction(which will change) based on experiences,  is an empowering methodology. Students learn to be critical about thought, media,and knowledge claims,  and invites embracing the possibilities of grayness and ambiguity.

One simple adjustment for teachers to utilize this teaching style is to alter their pedagogical language from declarative to inquisitive. “Here is what you need to know!” morphs into questions of inquiry.  An even better approach  is when questions are provocative. For example:

  • “If women were not allowed universal suffrage until the early 20th century, was the USA a democracy before then?”
  • “How can we call the US isolationist in the 1920s and 1930s if the US had active military actions in Latin America, Russia, and the Philippines?”
  • “If the Cold War was a conflict between communism and democracy, why would China (a communist nation) have better relations with the USA  than with the USSR in the 1970s?”

Try making your own questions. The key is to have them be open-ended and to utilize a “conceptual framework” for students to analyze.

Historical Thinking Skills (HTS)

Historical Thinking Skills are content specific applications of critical and creative thinking. Educators have an array of HTS models to select from.  Using them establishes a set of transferable skills to other content and life outside of the classroom.  Which set do you use or encourage history teachers to use? What are some other models not listed here?

There are some overlap of skills among these organizations. Regardless, they all talk to a constructivist (higher order thinking) approach to studying, imagining, and interpreting the past. Check them out and use them with you students.magritte

 

Magritte’s Windows: Do You See What I See?


What can Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte offer to history education? His series of “Window” paintings provide reminders about constructivism and studying the past.  Magritte noted “We see it outside ourselves, and at the same time we only have a representation of it in ourselves. In the same way, we sometimes situate in the past that which is happening in the present. Time and space thus lose the vulgar meaning that only daily experience takes into account.”magritte easel

Take a look at some of his window series (both the shattered windows and easel motifs).MagritteRene-Evening_Falls-We@SnF-1

Click here see my short screencast explaining the utility of Magritte’s window to teach history from a narrative constructivist approach. I contend that the shattered paintings also support the post-modern concept that “master narratives” no longer can hold as absolute truth claims.  Sorry national histories, you can’t/don’t get it all right.

 

Connectivism and History Education

History teachers need to know their content.  But they need to realize that,like the textbook, they are no longer the source nor are they the only source for knowledge of the past their students can access.   The past’s “bottle neck” of historical information has been democratized, mostly through the availability of technology.  A multitude of sources of information demands that teachers facilitate student access, evaluation, use, and creation of information. skills his is a singulart understanding with limitless projections, nodes, and interconnections.  This suggests that students be exposed to a variety of perspectives and sources as they construct their inter-conneted world view.

Growing up, this networked way of thinking about the past was explored in the television series Connections  hosted by James Burke. “Connections explores an “Alternative View of Change” (the subtitle of the series) that rejects the conventional linear and teleological view of historical progress. Burke contends that one cannot consider the development of any particular piece of the modern world in isolation. Rather, the entire gestalt of the modern world is the result of a web of interconnected events, each one consisting of a person or group acting for reasons of their own motivations (e.g., profit, curiosity, religious) with no concept of the final, modern result to which the actions of either them or their contemporaries would lead.” (view all episodes here!)

One of my favorite episodes, Revolutions, is here.  Prepared to be addicted…

 

Also, this type of understanding and world vids was  published  by the McNeil’s in the  Human Web (2003). web

“The general direction of history has been toward greater & greater social cooperation – both voluntary and compelled – driven by the realities of social competition. Over time, cooperating groups of every sort tended to grow in size to the point where their internal cohesion, their ability to communicate and conform, weakened and broke down.”
(McNeill & McNeill, p.6)

David Christian’s 2004 Maps of Time followed suit by introducing the concept of “Big History.”

“Metanarratives exist, they are powerful, and they are potent.  We may be able to domesticate them; but we will never eradicate them.  Besides, while grand narratives are powerful, subliminal grand narratives can be even more powerful.  Yet a maps of time‘modern creation myth’ already exists just below the surface of modern knowledge.  It exists in the dangerous form of poorly articulated and poorly understood fragments of modern knowledge that have undermined traditional accounts of reality without being integrated into a new vision of reality…schools to universities to research institutes… teach about origins in disconnected fragments.  We seem incapable of offering a unified account of how things came to be the way they are.” ”

The first week in November H2 (History Channel 2) aired Big History in two episodes, “Salt” (clip below), and “Horse Power Revolution.”

“In a big-history sense, New York City would not be the city that it is without salt,” says Mark Bitterman, author of “Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, With Recipes.”


The NYTimes predicted, “The program will probably find a home in many high school classrooms.”Odds are even higher as the curriculum  has the financial backing of Bill Gates,”“Big History is my favorite course of all time. It blurs the boundaries between science, geography and history and literally tells the story of the universe.” And now it is available online .  That is pretty amazing.

Exploring networks and teaching students to view history as a constructed and connected understanding of the past is the way the history should be taught in schools.  By emphasizing “narrative” as the interpretation of the past (with evidence to make your claim valid – see quote above)  students develop important, relevant skills using history content.  What a great way to study the past!

In short, instead of being graded on what you can look up, students are expected to present and support their understanding.

The 411 on 9-11: The Master(mind) Narrative

The posting of this blog, one may think, is poorly timed.  Weeks too late as last month schools marked two global events which use in their moniker “9-11.” Still, both events, assuming classes are taught chronologically, will be relevant later in the school year, and therefore educators can learn from this post. Read on…

The other other 9-11?

The other other 9-11?

In September some students in the USA were taught about the USA’s supported military coup which overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973. “Because of CIA covert intervention in Chile, and the repressive character of General Pinochet’s rule, the coup became the most notorious military takeover in the annals of Latin American history.” The death of Allende yielded to the dictatorship of Augosoto Pinochet until 1990. US foreign policy in Latin America included supporting the policies of anti-democratic regimes.  According to the Washington Post, Pinochet’s brutal resume includes  the death of “at least 3,197 people and tortured about 29,000.”

Likewise, last month most schools in the US were taught that, twenty-eight years later, two passenger airliners were flown  by members of al-Qaeda, mostly from Saudi Arabia, into the iconic World Trade Center “Twin Towers” in New York City and one into the Pentagon near Washington D.C.  Nearly 3,000 people perished in the attacks, about 12% of the casualties were from outside of the USA. One outcome of the attacks was a proclaimed “War on Terror”  leading the US along a road which is  “in theory, an endless war –- a war that approaches something closer to a way of life.” It is important to remember the origin of the attackers.   Al Qaeda’s formation is traced back to the  late 1980’s, “As Soviet troops withdraw from Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden and other Arab fighters from the US-backed Mujahideen movement form “al-Qaeda”, which in Arabic means “the base”.” 

The number of educational resources that have been created about the 9-11 attacks in 2001 is prolific. My previous blog post here focused on educational resources’ attention to the “why” and “what” of the 9-11 of 2001. This year, I want to examine the narrative that has been created in educational and media sources around the concept of the 9-11 “Mastermind”.  I argue that the educational resources are deficient in this area because of the fact that they incorrectly identify Osama Bin Laden as the “Mastermind”  of 9-11.  The “Mastermind” label, branded on Bin Laden, is presented as a  fact, an unchallengeable truth that is replicated and perpetuated in schools vis-a-vis “authoritative” curriculum materials.  Strangely enough, this Bin Laden-Mastermind connection exists despite ample evidence from multiple sources (presented below) that the Mastermind of the 9-11 attacks was Khalid Sheik Muhammad (KSM). The absurdity of KSM’s absence in 9-11 educational curriculum materials is magnified by the fact KSM is currently on trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for being the Mastermind of 9-11!


 9-11 Resources

So, what is being celebrated by publishers and media as authoritative best practices for and content resources for  9-11?  A sample of materials is below. Are they in your department office or library? If so, I hope examine the narrative promoted by them and the evidence they emphasize.

  • New York Regent’s Exam Review Guide has no mention of Khalid Sheik Muhammad! Their entry for Osama Bin Laden supports the Bin Laden “Master Mind” claim: “Osama bin Laden: Saudi Arabian multimillionaire and leader of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. He is responsible for numerous terrorist attacks on the United States including the destruction of the World Trade Center.

 

  •  Social Studies Services:  Their binder consists of a range of materials, lessons, and sources to be used in class and is “suitable for assemblies.” The resource is an impressive collection and aspires to laudable goals: “Relying on open-ended inquiry, activities also prompt students to interpret photographs, video footage, and oral histories; and to document their findings by means such as Google Earth and a timeline.” Samples can be seen here.   The most promising resource is the “Student Handout: Activity2 Timelines pp 28-33.  Osama Bin Laden is mentioned over a dozen times and Timothy McVeigh once. But they fall short of mentioning KSM even once.
  • Hippocampus:  This is an amazing site.  “HippoCampus.org is a free, core academic web site that delivers rich multimedia content–videos, animations, and simulations–on general education subjects to middle-school and high-school teachers and college professors, and their students, free of charge.”  Their History selections, despite not having a World History offering, boasts regular and AP level content.  9-11 is housed in the “Bush and Obama” unit under two sections:”Reaction to 9/11″ and “Domestic Response to 9/11”.  KSM is absent.  Bin Laden gets a photo opportunity.

Hippocampus 2

  • The History Channel:  The have extensive resources – videos, interactives, timelines, photos- on 9-11. The Osama Bin Laden  entry identifies him as the mastermind, “On this day in 2011, Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, is killed by U.S. forces during a raid on his compound hideout in Pakistan.  Search History.com’s website for Khalid Sheik Muhammad and you get  ZERO results.  Search “Ice Road Truckers” or “Swamp People” and you get over 28,000 results…for each of them! Oh History channel, how you are misnamed!
  • CNN:  Think about it. When did you realize CNN’s reporting moved from news coverage to info-tainment.  I think it was the late 90’s, but that is just a guess.  Their timeline of 9-11, updated on 9-11-2013, has no reference to KSM!  Bin Laden is still identified as the “mastermind”, “This terrorist attack on the United States is orchestrated by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.”  However, most ridiculously, CNN still lists the Dec 2001 Bin Laden Confession Tape as a viable part of the narrative “December 13, 2001 – The U.S. government releases a tape in which Osama bin Laden takes responsibility for the attacks.”  They fail to mention that this tape came under heavy scrutiny from international media and research organizations.
  • Digital History: This online US History survey course has an impressive backing of sponsors.  The goal of the project  is also This Web site was designed and developed to support the teaching of American History in K-12 schools and colleges and is supported by the College of Education at the University of Houston. Overall this is an impressive project with some expanded features. However, the final unit”The 21st Century” includes a quiz on 9-11.  Looking at question 3 below, you should figure out where I am going with this:

3. The mastermind behind the terrorist attack was

a. Timothy McVeigh                    b. Saddam Hussein                     c. Osama Bin Laden

I emailed them about this, but never received a response. What a surprise.

KSM, the Mastermind of 9-11, 2001

I lay it out there, Khalid Sheik Muhammad is the master mind of  9-11. Osama Bin Laden is not the mastermind behind 9-11.  Therefore, any educational material, standards, test, curriculum, etc, that professes Bin Laden is, needs to explain its stance KSM-w-620x349against the sources below.  As you review them, please remember, I am arguing that the narrative about the 9-11 Mastermind found in current curriculum resources are faulty,  misleading, numbing, and a gross dis-service to the students, teachers, and education profession.

I offer evidence that questions  and contradicts those resources.  Review them yourself.  Come to your own conclusion. Let me know what you think.

  • The New Yorker Magazine:   In 2010, groups protested the idea of putting KSM on trial in NYC (remember that?).  “Greg Manning, whose wife, Laura, was severely burned in the World Trade Center attacks, stood before the crowd and said, “Thousands are already dead because of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s choices…There’s a place for the courts, but not for the mastermind of 9/11.”
  • The Daily News: Maybe the title says it all “Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, 9/11 mastermind, allowed to build vacuum in CIA prison.”  Maybe not.   But it is hard to ignore this claim written in July 2013.  Too new? Read on…
  • 2007 Military Tribunal Transcript: I guess we forget that these documents are, at least theoretically, our possessions.  Regardless, this 2007 transcript offers a bit to read about KSM and his role in 9-11.  He, and his personal representative, profess “I hereby admit and affirm without duress… I was responsible for the  9/11 operation A to Z”
  • Wikilieaks:  This memo of “Combatant Status Review” of September 4, 2006  signed by Rear Admiral Harry Harris Jr. is telling. that KSM was the Mastermind of 9-11.   Page 5… “Detainee was the mastermind of the 11September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.”  Read for yourself.
  • 9-11 Commission Report:  I guess this is the smoking gun, if there is to be one.  The US committee  announced, in 2002, that KSM was the mastermind of 9-11. The group was “an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002, is chartered to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. The Commission is also mandated to provide recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.”  They explicitly state “No one exemplifies the model of the terrorist entrepreneur more clearly than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks.”

 

The Atlantic  Monthly ran this title in 2012″How the FBI, CIA, and Pakistani intelligence worked together — or didn’t — in the global hunt for the mastermind behind September 11, 2001″… Everything the Americans could rustle up pointed to Karachi. Every source and bit of information said Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was operating out of the capital of Pakistan’s Wild West…

So, where does that leave the us?  Survey your colleagues. Ask them who is Khalid Sheikh Mohammad?  Ask them who is the “Mastermind of 9-11”?  Review the material you use and the narrative about 9-11.  Weigh the evidence and ask why is KSM not in the narratives, standards,  and curriculum materials for high school students.

 

I would like to end by noting another type of narrative around 9-11.   Both TED videos detail attempts at creating meaningful interpretations of what happened on 9-11.  It is important that these messages are in the public sphere, the collective conscious.  Take a look and see how they impact your view of 9-11.  These voices, emphasizing a social historical approach,  remind us that world events and globalization networks are never one-way avenues of “Them” causing harm to “Us.”

Enjoy.

Photography, War, and Worldview: Where DBQs and Media Literacy Meet

I recently visited the Corcoran Gallery of Art located in Washington D.C. to see the exhibit “WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath” on view until September 29th.  The exhibit is on tour, organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  Its overview description states:

“Images recorded by more than 280 photographers, from 28 nations, span 6 continents and more than 165 years, from the Mexican-American War in the mid-1800s to present-day conflicts. Iconic photographs as well as previously unknown images are featured, taken by military photographers, commercial photographers (portrait and photojournalist), amateurs, and artists. The exhibition examines the relationship between war and photography, exploring the types of photographs created during wartime, as well as by whom and for whom. Images are arranged to show the progression of war: from the acts that instigate armed conflict to “the fight,” to victory and defeat, and photos that memorialize a war, its combatants, and its victims. Portraits of servicemen, military and political leaders, and civilians are a consistent presence.”

I urge you to attend this exhibit if it comes close to you.  If that isn’t possible, watch the promo video below, read the BBC report, and/or take a virtual tour online.

The exhibit was fantastic. It stimulated a mix of emotional and intellectual responses: beautiful, sad, horrifying, motivating, agitating, challenging, clarifying… The combination was something I wasn’t expecting.  One section of the tour was overwhelming and I had to leave it for a moment to recenter.  The exhibit. I thought, was leaving its mark upon me.

Numerous images continue to reverberate in my mind and remain vivid memories. This was my favorite picture –   A wristwatch frozen in time, 11:02 a.m.  marking the explosion of the Nagasaki Bomb on August 9, 1945. It was found under a mile from the explosion’s epicenter. Chilling.

Nagasaki watch

 

So how does this relate to  teaching and education.  This exhibit, and others like it,  represents  the heart of social studies/history education – it helps form an individual’s world view.  I firmly believe  that a major purpose of learning about the past (history), the humanities, and social sciences to be an existential enterprise.  The existential practices  students engage with include:

  • conceptual learning
  • questioning
  • researching their interests
  • reflecting and investigating personal and social beliefs and conclusions
  • developing new information and processes
  • seeking new experiences

The ultimate goal of this model of teaching and learning is the construction of a personal worldview (which will change overtime).

That is a powerful educational outcome!  (And a definite characteristic of 21st century learning). What other fields claim this as an objective?

Let’s explore a little further using contemporary education parlance,.”WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath” provides the opportunity for students to engage with content and demonstrate critical/creative thinking by combining media literacy and document based questions.  (whew!) Let’s explore these two ideas:

1) Medial Literacy:The ability to ACCESS, ANALYZE, EVALUATE, and COMMUNICATE information in a variety of forms-is interdisciplinary by nature. Media literacy represents a necessary, inevitable, and realistic response to the complex, ever-changing electronic environment and communication cornucopia that surround us.

To become a successful student, responsible citizen, productive worker, or competent and conscientious consumer, individuals need to develop expertise with the increasingly sophisticated information and entertainment media that address us on a multi-sensory level, affecting the way we think, feel, and behave.

The Center for Media Literacy has numerous resources and opportunities. I think this image does a great job explaining the concept too.

medialit_infographic

 

2) Document Based Questions (DBQ):  Are typically an essay or series of short-answer questions that is constructed by students using one’s own knowledge combined with support from several provided sources.

AP courses use them stating, “the DBQ typically requires students to relate the documents to a historical period or theme and thus to focus on major periods and issues. For this reason, outside knowledge — information gained from materials other than the documents — is very important and must be incorporated into your essay if the highest scores are to be earned.”  Similarly, IB history courses also use DBQs.  The suggested strategy for students analyzing DBQs is the OPVL approach (Origin -Purpose – Value – Limitations).

However, DBQs are not just for students in advanced courses.  Notably, the Regents Exam uses them. Their approach, less analytical than the IB, focuses on preparation and structure stressing “Before actually writing the DBQ essay, one should analyze the task and organize the information that they wish to include in the essay response…carefully read the historical context and the task. Look for clues that will help identify which historical era(s) the DBQ is focusing on, and the information required to thoroughly address the task.”

The DBQ Project co founders Chip Brady and Phil Roden  (now in their 13th year) state “we believe that all students can develop high-level critical thinking skills if they have consistent instruction and a chance to practice. Our engaging questions and use of primary and secondary sources give students the opportunity to investigate history from a variety of perspectives.  Our flexible pedagogy supports discussion and debate as students clarify their own ideas and write evidence-based arguments.”

The DBQ Project provides outstanding resources and professional development. In my experience they have been a model of effective history education.

The DBQ resources and approaches have become common curriculum features.  Organizations have regularly include them in their curriculum materials. But is is also a good strategy for students and teachers to create their own.

Some guidelines are here and here and here.  A Prezi about the process is below.


World View

One  observation I have about DBQs is that they rarely, at least in my experience, utilize contemporary pworldview1hotography.  I imagine this is partly due to perceived content restrictions. However, consider the larger claims voiced by whatever content standards you use.  Using photographs like the ones in  “WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath”   have students explore their understanding  of big ideas and concepts. These skills, in turn, help students construct their world view.  In other words, the DBQ approach can be used as a meta-cognitive task. Teachers may already do this. If you do please let me know….

In the end I believe this existential objective should be an explicit  and intentional part  of the DBQ process used in social studies and history classes. Set the bar high for your students and make your DBQs relevant with contemporary images.  Considering the current realities of war and conflict, media literacy is a skill which needs attention.  The photos at the Corcoran exhibit will leave a profound impact on students and expose them to realities of war hidden from them in mainstream media. I hope you try this exercise at least once this school year.

Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons
Packed up and ready to go
Heard of some grave sites, out by the highway
A place where nobody knows

The sound of gunfire, off in the distance
I’m getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstone, I lived in the ghetto
I’ve lived all over this town

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
This ain’t no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey
I ain’t got time for that now

The song’s full lyrics are here

 

 

 

 

 

 

A (Potential) Cure for the Summertime Blues

Hall of Famer Eddie Cochran, and musicians after him covering his iconic rock and roll hit, claimed that there “Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues.”  As we approach mid-August, that end-of-summer-break-sensation starts to creep into our minds as well as the realization that the annual return to the classroom is on the horizon.

This post offers a remedy of sorts for those summertime, back-to-school, blues.  No, it isn’t a suggested career change or an extended excursion (this would be avoidance). Rather, the post is a dose of excitement, motivation, and awareness for your consideration and exploration.  Inspiration comes from all sources and is all around us. Checkout this  excerpt (including part of the poem Los Heraldos Negros (The Black Messengers) by Cesar Vallejos) featured in the film Girl Rising:

NARRATOR “In a lot of the world, school is free. Parents don’t just have to pay for school. They have to buy books and uniforms. Sometimes, they pay for exams and report cards. For millions of families, it is simply too much.

A girl born on planet today has a one and fourth chance of being born into poverty. And a very good school, that is where she will stay.

But the right education could change all that. Knowledge is power, just ask Senna.

SENNA, 14-years-old “Reciting Text”: The Black Heralds, by the great poet Cesar Vallejo.

There are blows in life, so powerful . . . I don’t know!
Blows as from God’s hatred; as if before them,
the backlash of everything suffered
were to dam up in the soul . . . I don’t know!

The first time I read that it took my breath away. The rhythm of it, the force. For me, it was unforgettable.”

What blows will come this school year?  How will you and your students respond to them? How tuned in are you? How do you frame teaching, the  profession, the experience? Can you explain your educational philosophy?

I suggest looking at these resources below and leave a comment in the morning. 😉  Enjoy!

Blogs (I focused on Social Studies/History Blogs)

  • History Tech:You’ll find all sorts of ideas, tools, and best practices in the social studies here at History Tech. So feel free to browse around, subscribe to the feed, or leave a comment.
  • World History Teachers Blog: This is a  webpage written by high school teachers for those who teach world history and want to find online content as well as technology that you can use in the classroom.  There are sister blogs about US History and US Government as well.
  • Not Another History Teacher:  Melissa Seideman teaches 11th grade U.S. History, 12th grade Government/Economics, and AP Government and Politics in Cold Spring, NY. Her goal is for her blog to provide teachers with resources that can excite a student’s love of learning. Technology can meet student needs, engages them, and help them to be the best learner they can be.
  • The MiddleWeb:  all about the middle grades with a sharp focus on teaching and learning in grades 4-8. Since 1996, we’ve been providing resources for teachers, school leaders, parents and others interested in the success of young adolescents. In 2012, they completely redesigned the website around four streams of original content.
  • World Religions Blog: This is a blog by high school teachers for those who teach World Religions and want to find online content and technology.
  • Mr. Martera Musings: World History & International Relations Teacher at University School of Milwaukee, Martera writes “Being creative and making things keeps me happy.”

 

Federal Initiatives

  • Connected Educators:In collaboration with a wide range of educational organizations and educators, the Connected Educators project is increasing the quality, accessibility, and connectedness of existing and emerging online communities of practice.
  • The Institute of Education Sciences: provides rigorous and relevant evidence on which to ground education practice and policy and share this information broadly. By identifying what works, what doesn’t, and why, we aim to improve educational outcomes for all students, particularly those at risk of failure. We are the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, and by law our activities must be free of partisan political influence.
  • US Department of State Office of the Historian: The Office’s public outreach activities include hosting scholarly conferences on key issues in the history of U.S. foreign policy, answering historical research  questions, consulting with scholars, educators, and students, and working with high school teachers across the country to provide high-quality materials for classroom use.

Fueling the Passion

  • EdWeek Professional Development Index: Whoa! Check it out.  From “About Japan” to “Zane Education.”  And that is just for the History/Social Studies filter. There has got to be something for you.
  • Teaching American History:  The website redesign is indeed more attractive.  Did you know they have a free online Saturday Webinar Series?
  • Geoffrey Canada: Our failing schools. Enough is enough! : Why, why, why does our education system look so similar to the way it did 50 years ago? Millions of students were failing then, as they are now — and it’s because we’re clinging to a business model that clearly doesn’t work. Education advocate Geoffrey Canada dares the system to look at the data, think about the customers and make systematic shifts in order to help greater numbers of kids excel.
  • Write your Teaching Philosophy: Your teaching philosophy is a reflection of your education and classroom experience, developed during college or graduate school, and in the classrooms where you have taught.  Take time to write or revise your philosophy statement.
  • The UN Global Education Initiative:

    The Global Education First Initiative is led by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. It gathers a broad spectrum of world leaders and advocates who all aspire to use the transformative power of education to build a better future for all.

    The Initiative aims to raise the political profile of education, strengthen the global movement to achieve quality education and generate additional and sufficient funding through sustained advocacy efforts.  Achieving gains in education will have an impact on all the Millennium Development Goals, from lower child and maternal mortality, to better health, higher income and more environmentally-friendly societies.

     

    Perspective:

On an existential note, if none of these links act as cures for the summertime blues, you can always find another.  Eddie Cochran couldn’t.  He died in 1960 at 21 in a car accident in the UK while on tour. Tragic indeed.  “Summertime Blues” was ranked number 73 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Cochran’s short life provides some perspective that I always found useful right around the start of the school year.  So does this recent discovery; the children’s cook Zoom by Hungarian illustrator Istvan Banyai.

So, don’t forget to smile at the start of the school year.  Who would you  actually be impacting if you waited until winter break?

Identifying the “Why” in Education -10 Theories For Educators to Know, Apply, and Share

Throughout this past school, the concept of “starting with the “Why” has consistently appeared in various settings.  The mantra is emphasized in meetings,  promoted by AVID leadership in our county,  referenced at the NCSS meeting in Seattle, and is a guiding principle around professional development.  At the orientation meeting for judges at the the National History Day tournament, an explanation of “Why” was used identifying  our TheGoldenCirclecollective enjoyment of history and support for students’ engaging with the past. I researched the concept and its “Golden Circle” approach to leadership.  Applying this to education is, I argue, is essential to the professionalism and artistry of our field.  We should all be able to answer the “Why” for our personal practices, content area, school mission, and national purpose… and provide that answer to our students and their parents.

Now that summer is upon us, it is a perfect time to reflect on the Why.
The Golden Circle

Beginning as a student in anthropology, Simon Sinek turned his fascination with people into a career of convincing people to do what inspires them. His earliest work was in advertising, moving on to start Sinek Partners in 2002, but he suddenly lost his passion despite earning solid income. Through his struggle to rediscover his excitement about life and work, he made some profound realizations and began his helping his friends and their friends to find their “why” — at first charging just $100, person by person. Never planning to write a book, he penned Start With Why simply as a way to distribute his message

 

The 10 theories below are obviously not a comprehensive list.  They represent what happens to be synthesizing in my current experiences, reading, and discussions with colleagues and my PLN.  They help me answer the Why which in turn guide the How and What of history and social studies education. What theories would you add to the list?  What do you think of these?  Enjoy!

 

  1. Carol DweckMind Set :
    Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and mindsetsuccess—a simple idea that makes all the difference.In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports. It enhances relationships.

Test your Mindset here!

 

2. Daniel GolemanEmotional Intelligence:   The phrase, or its casual shorthand EQ, argues that IQ, or conventional intelligence, is too narrow; that there are wider areas of Emotional Intelligence that dictate and EQ at workenable how successful we are. Success requires more than IQ (Intelligence Quotient), which has tended to be the traditional measure of intelligence, ignoring essential behavioural and character elements. We’ve all met people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially and inter-personally inept. And we know that despite possessing a high IQ rating, success does not automatically follow.

“Most gratifying for me has been how ardently the concept has been embraced by educators, in the form of programs in “social and emotional learning or SEL. Back in 1995 I was able to find only a handful of such programs teaching emotional intelligence skills to children. Now, a decade later, tens of thousands of schools worldwide offer children SEL. In the United States many districts and even entire states currently make SEL curriculum requirement, mandating that just as students must attain a certain level of competence in math and language, so too should they master these essential skills for living.”


3. Sugata Mitra – Minimally Invasive Education:  MIE is a pedagogic method that uses the learning environment to generate an adequate level of motivation to induce learning in groups of children, with minimal, or no, intervention by a teacher.  Mitra suggests this approach develops “functional literacy” in students and demands reflection on how time and money  is being spent in education: “If computer literacy is defined as turning a computer on and off and doing the basic functions, then this method allows that kind of computer literacy to be achieved with no formal instruction. Therefore any formal instruction for that kind of education is a waste of time and money. You can use that time and money to have a teacher teach something else that children cannot learn on their own.” 

Minimally Invasive Education in school asserts there are many ways to study and learn. It argues that learning is a process you do, not a process that is done to you. Another advantage is that MIE ensures that children themselves take ownership of the Learning Station by forming self-organized groups who learn on their own. Finally an unsupervised setting ensures that the entire process of learning is learner-centric and is driven by a child’s natural curiosity.

Mitra has recently announced the Self Organized Learning Environment (SOLE).  SOLE is a place where children can work in groups, access the internet and other software, follow up on a class activity or project or take them where their interests lead them.  Download the toolkit and try it out.


4. Phil SchlectlyEngagement Theory:  Schlectly focuses attention on student motivation and the strategies needed to increase the engagementprospect that schools and teachers will be positioned to increase the presence of engaging tasks and activities in the routine life of the school. The Theory of Engagement proceeds from a number of assumptions. The most critical ones focus on the way school tasks and activities are designed and student decisions regarding the personal consequences of doing the task assigned or participating in the activity.  The use of technology, although commonly supposed, is not a requirement for Schlectly’s theory. In fact,  the technology – engagement relationship has spawned its own body of research and literature. In turn, the theory looks at the effectiveness of teachers leading students through discussions and action planning.  Letting students take control of their learning, and use the school as a network, would definitely be a step in a different direction.  Schlectly also mentions “that relationships, and the work assigned directly impacts student’s performance.”

 

5. Paulo FreireCritical Pedagogy: Critical Pedagogy is a domain of education and research that studies the social, cultural, political, economic, and cognitive dynamics of teaching and learning. Critical Pedagogy emphasizes the impact of power relationships in the educational process. Emerging in the late 1960s with the work of Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire, Critical Pedagogy has evolved as a cross-disciplinary field. “Critical Pedagogy would never find it sufficient to reform the habits of thought of thinkers, however effectively, without challenging and transforming the institutions, ideologies, and relations that engender distorted, oppressed thinking in the first place — not as an Freireadditional act beyond the pedagogical one, but as an inseparable part of it. The method of Critical Pedagogy for Freire involves, to use his phrase, “reading the world” as well as “reading the word” (Freire & Macedo 1987). Part of developing a critical consciousness, as noted above, is critiquing the social relations, social institutions, and social traditions that create and maintain conditions of oppression. For Freire, the teaching of literacy is a primary form of cultural action, and as action it must “relate speaking the word to transforming reality”(Freire 1970a, 4).

 

 

 

6. George SiemensConnectivismAt the core, connectivism is a form of experiential learning which prioritizes the set of connections formed by actions and experience over the idea that knowledge is propositional. It shares with some other theories a core proposition, that knowledge is not acquired, as though it were a thing. Knowledge is, on this theory, literally the set of connections formed by actions and experience.  One aspect of connectivism is its central metaphor of a network with nodes and connections.In this metaphor, a node is anything that can be connected to another node such as an organization, information, data, feelings and images. Connectivism sees learning as the process of creating connections and elaborating a network. Not all connections are of equal strength.

The starting point of connectivism is the individual. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual. This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.

7. Lev VykotskySocial Constructivis Theory:  Vykotsky, when juxtaposed to Piaget, emphasized the social interactions between students and teachers.  In short positive relationships are significant to learning.

His Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) and More Knowledgeable Other (MKO) are two of Vykotsky’s major legacies found in contemporary education. ZPD addresses the difference between what a child can achieve independently and what a child can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner. Vykotsky sees the area in the ZPD as where the most sensitive instruction or guidance should be given – allowing the child to develop skills they will then use on their own – developing higher mental functions.

Vygotsky believed during the learning process children first learn by imitating adults. In the beginning, children are unable to complete a particular task without assistance. Over time, this child may be able to complete more complex tasks with adult assistance because the ZPD of a child isn’t stagnant, it continuously changes as he or she conquers increasingly difficult work over time. Focusing more on education, ZPD can be useful to educators because it should remind them how students can be expanded to reach goals with or without adult direction and support. This is often referred to as “Scaffolding.”

The MKO strongly relates to ZPD: “it refers to someone who has a better understanding or a higher ability level than the learner, with respect to a particular task, process, or concept.

Although the implication is that the MKO is a teacher or an older adult, this is not necessarily the case.  Many times, a child’s peers or an adult’s children may be the individuals with more knowledge or experience. In fact, the MKO need not be a person at all (website, video).   The key to MKOs is that they must have (or be programmed with) more knowledge about the topic being learned than the learner does.”


8. Gary Marx16 Trends: Sixteen Trends … Their Profound Impact on Our Future, and Future Focused Leadership … Preparing Schools, Students, and Communities for Tomorrow’s Realities, lays out evidence for major trends and then speculates on their profound implications for society at large and education systems, such as schools and colleges, in particular.  He adds, “We have a distinct choice–we can simply defend what we have…or we can create what we need to get our students, our schools, and our communities ready for a fast-changing world.”

His new book will build upon his 16 trends.  Marx states “The next generation in the trends series focuses on political, economic, social, technological, demographic, and environmental trends. Among more than 20 societal forces that will get special attention in the upcoming book are identity and privacy, sustainability, scarcity vs. abundance, and energy. They are in addition to dramatic developments in aging, diversity, the flow of generations, technology, interdependence, and the environment, to name a few. Massive trends that impact the whole of society provide an outstanding launch pad for active learning, project-based education, real-world education, teaching thinking and reasoning/problem solving skills, and learning through inquiry. Students are drawn to using futures tools, such as trend analysis, issue analysis, and gap analysis because each one comes with an invitation to consider implications for shaping their own futures. The new book will be published by Education Week Press.

16Marx

9. Howard Gardner –  Multiple Intelligences:  Arguably the most influential educational movement of recent educational practice, MI has had to contend against rampant misconcpetions and faculty application of Gardner’s theory.  I have come across this numerous times in my career. So, please, be on guard when practioners reference Gardner. Gardner defined the first seven intelligences in Frames of Mind in 1983.  He added two more, Naturalist and Existentialist,  in Intelligence Reframed in 1999.  “Based on his study of many people from many different walks of life in everyday circumstances and professions, Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences. Gardner’s MI Theory challenged traditional beliefs in the fields of education and cognitive science.  According to a traditional definition, intelligence is a uniform cognitive capacity people are born with.  This capacity can be easily measured by short-answer tests.  According to Gardner, intelligence is:

  • The ability to create an effective product or offer a service that is valued in a culture9_MI
  • A set of skills that make it possible for a person to solve problems in life
  • The potential for finding or creating solutions for problems, which involves gathering new knowledge

In addition, Gardner claims that:

  • All human beings possess all intelligences in varying amounts
  • Each person has a different intellectual composition
  • We can improve education by addressing the multiple intelligences of our students
  • These intelligences are located in different areas of the brain and can either work independently or together
  • These intelligences may define the human species
  • Multiple intelligences can be nurtured and strengthened, or ignored and weakened
  • Each individual has nine intelligences (and maybe more to be discovered)

 

 

10. Benjamin Bloom/Lorin Anderson – Revised Taxonomy:  “In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. During the 1990’s a new group of cognitive psychologists, lead by Lorin Andersonblooms_gears_ipad_720x952-2cpl0pd1 (a former student of Bloom), updated the taxonomy to reflect relevance to 21st century work. The change from nouns to verbs associated with each level is significant.”   It is important to know that the list of action words that are typically associated with each level does not guarantee that students are engaged at that level.  Specific expectations and follow up questioning is essential to the process.  For example, asking students to “Compare and Contrast two images”  does not automatically place student thought at the “Analysis” level.  More is needed from the teacher.  For example “Compare and Contrast two images.  Explain your 3-4 findings that address the economic and social contexts of both images. Which do you find more appealing and why?”

Debate about the need to master a lower level of the taxonomy prior to advancing to the next one is prevalent.   Can student’s engage with a higher level first or is the lowest level the entry point for Bloom?  My belief is yes students can be engaged at higher levels first. In fact the “hierarchy” dimension of Bloom has been challenged and conceived as a fluid network of thought and action.