Education, as Jean-Francois Bayart observed, “frees you from yourself.” Facilitating this type of experience requires an engaging teacher invested in his students’ development. The combination of a challenging curriculum, dynamic instruction, and relevant assessment creates a student centered atmosphere Tantamount to this pedagogy is the establishment of positive relationships. An effective teacher will be proactive in this practice, seeking to build connections with students, colleagues, parents, administrators and the community. In turn, the educational experience for students should be introspective and welcoming to a multiplicity of perspectives. Overall, education should provide the “habits of mind” for students to develop cognitively, socially, and affectively. To these ends, it is essential that educators nurture what they do best, discuss what can be improved, and explore new practices they can “bring to the table.”
“Authentic” history analyzes a multiplicity of historical accounts allowing students to construct personal and social understanding. In essence, historical thinking skills, engages students in constructing their knowledge instead of memorizing content. This process frames history as an active, interpretive process, not an external body of facts. To achieve this, I firmly believe that History and Social Studies courses should:
1) Have challenging and provocative core questions guiding each class.
2) Utilize multiple narratives in order to facilitate the construction of understanding.
3) Expand the context of national history to include global perspectives.
4) Promote relevance by making explicit links to contemporary life.
Globalization has changed contemporary education. History and Social Studies courses are charged with the task of broadening their context and content by embracing global perspectives. No longer seen as tangential units of information, global content is expected to be an active element of a teacher’s knowledge base and repertoire. In turn, students’ world views and identities are expanded beyond the local and national. Likewise, incorporating web 2.0 tools into social studies classes increases collaboration and develops digital literacy skills in students. This expansion of knowledge creates a foundation for students to develop skills, competencies, and lead in a global paradigm.
Identity, like knowledge, is never a static concept. It is developed and renewed through interpretive frameworks emphasizing new life experiences. Programs that embrace a “culture of the possible” decide to be an active facilitator in the development of a student’s character and talents. Ultimately, this model encourages students to realize their potential, foster critical thinking, and explore the world’s realities and possibilities.