(Did you know that it is the Yoshino tree’s single white blossoms that create an effect of white clouds around the Tidal Basin and north onto the grounds of the Washington Monument. Intermingled with the Yoshino are a small number of Akebono cherry trees, which bloom at the same time as the Yoshino and produce single, pale-pink blossoms…)
Ok, back to the conference.
I had the honor of being part of a panel for a three hour workshop for 26 participants from a range of fields. Together with three outstanding historians and educators (see below and bios here) we shared insights and practices regarding the challenges and opportunities of teaching and learning world history.
Bob Bain, University of Michigan
Heather Streets-Salter, Northeastern University
Molly Warsh, University of Pittsburgh
Below, I have outlined my panel segment which summarized 6 moves/pivots our social studies program has been emphasizing and supporting for the last 7 years at Fairfax County Public Schools. For your reference the slide deck I used can be accessed here.
As it is just a slide deck, I am happy to clarify any part of the presentation. Just post a comment or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org Enjoy!
Overview: When teaching world history, teachers and teams have multiple chances to make the class engaging, relevant, and student centered. These opportunities uses the content of the class to support student skills and dispositions beyond the classroom. As with the other heading below, these moves will provide the best dynamic experiences for students when the team of teachers are professional collaborators.
Move/Pivot 1: Apply knowledge used in history to understand the present and develop students’ world views.
Move/Pivot 2: Use inquiry to develop disciplinary literacy with students so that they can construct their understanding and meaning of the past.
Move/Pivot 3: Connect students with other students beyond your school.
Overview: The amount of content in world history course, as you can imagine, is extensive (and arguably limitless). These moves require intentional course planning while developing teachers’ craft. Ultimately each decision is on a continuum that meets teachers/teams where they are with rooms to innovate when the time is right.
Move/Pivot 4: When should we take deep dives during the survey course?
Move/Pivot 5: What level of student input and autonomy is used?
Move/Pivot 6: Whose perspectives should we include?
In addition I do urge you to consider exploring the over 100 federally funded National Resource Centers (NRC) housed at universities across the USA. The goal of the NRC are to “support instruction in fields needed to provide full understanding of areas, regions or countries; research and training in international studies …instruction and research on issues in world affairs. and outreach programs to K-12 and post-secondary institutions, and the public at large.” NRC have been valuable partners as resource providers and supporters of teachers’ content understanding.
With the increase of 1:1 there is a demand from teachers and students for high quality digital content.
The number of DHP is large and growing.
Quality of DHP varies.
Time is needed to explore DHP and therefore time should be made available as part of professional learning and not seen as a luxury.
To recap, here is a working definition from wikipedia.
DHP is the use of digital media to further historical analysis, presentation, and research. Digital history is commonly digital public history, concerned primarily with engaging online audiences with historical content, or, digital research methods, that further academic research. Digital history outputs include: digital archives, online presentations, data visualizations, interactive maps, time-lines, audio files, and virtual worlds to make history more accessible to the user.
1. Throughline: The new NPR history podcast launched this February (2019) looks fantastic. Their tagline “The past is never past. Every headline has a history” models what great history education should do… connect the past to the current. You can hear their introductory promo here.
These are stories you can feel and sounds you can see from the moments that shaped our world. This is definitely one to add to your playlist!
3. The Indian Ocean in World History:This online resource enables users to explore primary source historical evidence about interactions among people in the lands around the Indian Ocean throughout history. From earliest pre-historic times to the present, people have traveled around and on the Indian Ocean, traded, explored, and made use of its rich resources. In buried sites, shipwrecks, monuments, museum objects, documents and books, there is a huge and growing record of these interactions and exchanges. This site aims to provide students, teachers, and general audiences with a sampling of these primary source. Below is an example of an interactive map they provide.
4. Korean War Legacy Project:The goal of the Korean War Legacy Project is to assist teachers, students, and the general public in understanding the origins and outcomes of the Korean War. Due to the enormity of World War II and the controversial nature of Vietnam, the Korean War is widely under-appreciated by American educators, politicians, and the general public. In history textbooks, it is often referred to as the “forgotten war” and is described in just a few negligible paragraphs. The documentary for the project is below… it has Korean subtitles!
5. Be Washington : Step inside Washington’s boots in this first-person interactive leadership experience. One type of DHP are simulations. Another is gaming. Be Washington does both either at the Mount Vernon estate in Virginia or online. Select among 4 pivotal scenarios in Washington’s career (2 as general and 2 as president). Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and other advisers will appear on your screen. Choose whose counsel you wish to hear and consider their advice on real challenges in real history. From there, it’s your turn to act–and then to learn how Washington handled the same dilemma.
6. ESRI Story Maps: Combining geography, history. and society is a powerful triad when teaching social studies. ESRI’s collection of story maps makes this synthesis explicit. They have created a series of Story Map collections that combine web maps, multimedia content, and engaging user experiences. The resources augment any digital resource collection. Keep up-to-date on the latest news from the Esri Story Maps team, and discover the best new work by storytellers around the world. @EsriStoryMaps
This is a fantastic weekly Twitter chat dedicated to help social studies teachers by
helping to facilitate democratic collaboration where educators can challenge & support each other to grow in their craft and, consequently, offer richer learning experiences for students. Join the live #sschat discussions Monday Night from 7-8 PM EST. Since its creation in 2010, #sschat has archived most of its chats (beginning in 2011). Here is the long list of archived discussions.
I love this tool. Improvements have been made pretty consistently making searches easy and meaningful. New constitutions are written every year. The people who write these important documents need to read and analyze texts from other places. Constitute offers access to the world’s constitutions so that users can systematically compare them across a broad set of topics — using an inviting, clean interface. The site is also available in Spanish and Arabic!
This partnership is between the British Museum and BBC. A 100 part series by Neil MacGregor, made during his time as Director of the British Museum, exploring world history from two million years ago to the present. Objects featured in the series can be explored and their stories discovered in the Museum galleries or on the website here.
10. World Population History: This an interactive site that lets you explore the peopling of our planet from multiple perspectives – historical, environmental, social and political. It is about the 2,000-year journey of human civilization and the possible paths ahead to the middle of this century. It’s especially useful for the high school classroom with rich content for geography, world history, environmental science and much more.
11. Digital History : Looking for a free digital textbook? This might be it! The materials on this Web site include a U.S. history textbook; over 400 annotated documents from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, supplemented by primary sources on slavery, Mexican American, Asian American, and Native American history, and U.S. political, social, and legal history; succinct essays on the history of film, ethnicity, private life, and technology; multmedia exhibitions; and reference resources that include a database of annotated links, classroom handouts, chronologies, glossaries, an audio archive including speeches and book talks by historians, and a visual archive with hundreds of historical maps and images. For an APUSH/Advanced text look into American Yawp.
This resource has a lot to offer. I linked to the social studies resource page, but I suggest also exploringhere for a birdseye view of the project. BrainPOP was founded in 1999 by Dr. Avraham Kadar as a creative way to explain difficult concepts. Today, their resource is supporting core and supplemental subjects, reaching millions of learners worldwide. I explored the a few of the games created for social studies. I can see students enjoying them but they should be used with intent by educators. Executive Command, and Do I Have a Right are my two favorites.
With this year’s American Historical Association (AHA) conference being hosted by Chicago, it was a perfect reason to return to a city I haven’t visited since the late 1990s (it’s a great place and I will be back for a Cubs game this season)! What’s more, attending the conference is a great way to start the new year.
In case you aren’t familiar with the AHA, it is:
“…the largest professional organization serving historians in all fields and all professions. The AHA is a trusted voice advocating for history education, the professional work of historians, and the critical role of historical thinking in public life.”
In this spirit of professional collaboration, I am happy to share some experiences and thoughts about the 4 days of professional learning and growth. Of course, the next step is to start acting on and applying those take-aways before they are lost in the post-conference return to “normalcy” of our work and personal lives. Enjoy exploring and connecting and I hope to see you in New York for the 2020 conference next January.
Below, I have structured my highlights under headings which I think will facilitate your browsing. Of course, with nearly 300 sessions, poster exhibits, receptions, and workshops there was much more going on than what I have selected below. Regardless, I am sure you will find something of note to explore and share with your network.
Did you know that public school teachers in the city that hosts the conference can attend for free? That’s incredible. I am very happy to see the number of K-12 teachers growing at the AHA conferences and feel that collaboration across K-16 benefits students.
I met Jason Herbert who is the creator Historian At The Movies a twitter community that get’s together online Sunday night at 8:00 pm EST. To connect use #HATM and join this group when you can (they were fun at happy hour). Next up this weekend: Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The Conference had multiple teaching workshops which focused on instruction, assessment, and answering the “Why” regarding the study of history. One thing to remember, if a university/college doesn’t require a history course, then the experience of formal history education is in the hands of high school teachers. The AHA provides resources for these topics
Whether from a presenter, my AHA colleagues, or an exhibition table, I found these quotes related to the teaching and learning of history to be worth internalizing.
“We like history. We thrive on complexity.”
“Memory requires that we possess stories and narratives that link facts to ways that are both meaningful and truthful.”
“Make what you are using intellectually good!”
“Doing well in history prepares you to succeed in school.”
“Historians typically don’t have a lot information. We work with what we have.”
“History is a story constrained by the dictates of evidence; when the evidence changes, so must the story.”
You can also see the AHA 2019 Presidential Address by Mary Beth Norton below:
Digital Resources and Advocacy
Do you know about the collection of digital resources available online for educators? I didn’t either. Organized by “Classroom Materials” and “Approaches to Teaching.” Here “you will find materials you can use in designing your own courses: syllabi, reading lists, sample assignments, course modules, etc. These are organized thematically, by resource type, and by the project or initiative that created the resource.”
If you want to contribute to the collection, contact Elyse Martin at email@example.com with questions, comments, or recommendations.
“One historian who cannot be with us tonight is Xiyue Wang, a PhdD student at Princeton
University. He is imprisoned in Teheran, convicted on what the AHA believes to be groundless charges of espionage. The AHA reiterates its support for Mr Wang and once again calls on the Iranian authorities to release him from prison and allow him to
resume his life and career.”
Looking Ahead and Around
History conference goers (veteran and rookie) can get their fix a few times in 2019:
“Membership in the society is free and entitles members to participate in Online conversations by commenting and leaving posts, and to receive an electronic newsletter highlighting developments, trends, and projects in the field.
If you would like to be part of the ISSOTL in History Community and receive our newsletter or have information upcoming events, projects, etc. that you would like to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The Alliance for Learning World History at the University of Pittsburgh has redesigned their website and is a collaboration of educators and history scholars organized to advance the teaching and learning of world history in classrooms—in the U.S. and in every part of the world. ALWH links leading practitioners in world history scholarship, curriculum, teacher preparation, professional development, and educational research.
History News Network is currently hosted by George Washington University and is dedicated ” to help put current events into historical perspective. ” What a fantastic idea! Each week HNN features up to a dozen fresh op eds by prominent historians and receives about 300,000 page views per month. It is really a fantastic and dynamic resource. Have fun exploring all its features.
Lastly, check out this free, online digital history resource “US History in a Global Context.” It is a dynamic resource that addresses the scarcity of professional development programs dedicated this approach. Additionally, the resources we have assembled are designed to inspire your creativity and develop your thought leadership as an advocate for this approach to teaching U.S.History.
Welcome to the 2018 -2019 school year, and the first post of the season. I hope your summer was inspiring, fun, and rejuvenating. Mine was… for many reasons. But, for this post, there were two events I participated in that I will not soon forget. I want to thank my colleagues involved in these experiences and share our learning with you. Enjoy and have a great school year.
So, when to start? How about June. The cover page for Foreign Affairsthat month asked the question “Which World Are We Living In?” Wow! What a question to ask. Ultimately, this article is asking us to think about our worldview. But more importantly, the question recognizes that our understanding of the past directly impacts our understanding of reality. That is phenomenal – and answers very explicitly the question “why do we study history?”
Back to the Foreign Affairs article, the options the issue provides come from a selection of scholars and include the following 6 choices”
I encourage you to read the article, but more importantly I ask that you think about this question in relation to your context:
“Are the history courses you teach, support, or take framed in a way to make the connection between the past and present explicit and ask students to construct their world view?”
“How can the competing demands of the large-scale and the small-scale be managed? As teachers seek to create texture by considering case studies around which to build lessons, they should regularly ask, “How well does this reflect larger patterns?” The right case study will draw students in through interesting people and lively events. If it is carefully chosen, it can simultaneously illustrate much larger patterns. Such an approach only works if teachers first establish a context for scale in their classroom.”
Great. To summarize, a developing the ability to think on “scales of analysis” in history is useful tool that makes the past more readily usable for our present world view. I look forward to the future work of the ALWH and if you ever go to the steel city, please stop by the fantastic Cathedral of Learning at U.Pitt and check out their nationality rooms which are still active classrooms.
Teach about the past in a way that develops your students’ world view in the present.
But, I came to a realization that this wasn’t good enough. It felt incomplete. By the time I left the conference only a few hours after my arrival, my belief had evolved to the following:
Teach about the past in a way that develops your students’ world view to
understand the globalized present so that they have agency in the future.
That feels better, for now at least. Check out the R U Ready mission: “The conference serves the needs of pre-service and practicing educators striving to develop global competencies for themselves as well as their own students entering a rapidly changing and interconnected world. ”
At the center of this event was a captivating keynote address from Program Director of Liaison America, Sandra Lima Argo. Liaison America builds global competencies through programming that nurtures the “personal, cultural and professional enrichment in the life of each participant, helping them to expand their global knowledge and stimulate their sensitivity to different ways of learning and seeing the world.”
But it was one of Argo’s slides which triggered the shift in my belief I mentioned earlier. It’s simplicity, as is often with inspiration, was profound.
The top level, global teacher, is what is needed in order to prepare students for tomorrow. Every teacher should be providing students with global experiences in their classes.Failure to do this prepares students for yesterday and develops a world view that doesn’t use the past as a tool for the future but as an obstacle in their present.
So, as you start the school year, my hope is that you empower your students with the skills to understand any of the worlds mentioned in Foreign Affairs, and better yet, to conceptualize world narratives and global realities not yet realized.
This weekend I re-watched President Obama’s eulogy for South Carolina state Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was one of nine victims in the June 17, 2015, shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. If you haven’t watched, it I have included the complete eulogy below. Amazing Grace indeed.
Empathy, knowledge, goodness toward the “other”, open minds and hearts… all of these are traits and behaviors to seek and internalize – especially for our students. To help with this, I recently had the pleasure of asking Benjamin Marcus, Religious Literacy Specialist with the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute to share his work and offers ideas about how educators can connect with the center.
Our exchange is below. Be sure to share this post with your network and reach out to Ben to see how teachers and students in any class can be better prepared in a diverse, interconnected globalized world. Enjoy!
1) Can you provide an overview of how the Religious Freedom Center came to be?
We owe our existence toDr. Charles Haynes.We are indebted to his decades of experience gathering religious, civic, and educational organizations—from across the political, ideological, and religious spectrum—to write consensus statements and guidelines about religious freedom and the study of religion in public schools. Dr. Haynes and his colleagues recognized the need to provide clarity about religion in public schools amidst the culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s, which followed a number of U.S. Supreme Court decisions about religion and education in the 1960s. Our Center inherited and builds on the legacy of the consensus documents compiled by Haynes.
Reorganized in 2010 to expand on religious liberty initiatives begun by Dr. Haynes at the First Amendment Center in 1994, the Religious Freedom Center is a nonpartisan national initiative focused on educating the public about the religious liberty principles of the First Amendment.
We are pleased to be part of the Freedom Forum Institute family, which is the educational and outreach partner of the Freedom Forum. The Freedom Forum—dedicated to free press, free speech, and free spirit—is a nonpartisan foundation that champions the five freedoms of the First Amendment.
2) What are some of the connections among the USA’s founding, religion, and public education?
It is impossible to tell an accurate history of public education in the United States without talking about religion. For a compelling, clear history of the relationship between religion and public education, I refer people to Between Church and State: Religion & Public Education in a Multicultural America by James W. Fraser. In the book, Fraser describes how public education pioneerHorace Mann designed common schools—early versions of today’s public schools—as a site of a “tolerant” form of “religious education” that would be appropriate in a multi-religious nation.Since Mann’s work in the 19th century, Americans have sought to create public schools that are more and more inclusive of students of all religions and none. We have seen schools transition from curricula that favor Protestants of various denominations in the 19th century; to schools that assume a student population of Protestants and Catholics (and sometimes Jews) in the early- to mid- 20th century; to schools from the 1960’s to today that wrestle with what it means to neither favor nor disfavor religion, including any particular religion, or non-religion.
3) How do you reply to claims that religion should not be part of public education?
We differentiate between teaching religionconfessionally to make students more or less religious, and teaching about religion academically so that students understand how religion operates in private and public life. Teaching religion is unconstitutional, whereas the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the legitimacy of teaching about religion. In the landmark decisionAbington v. Schempp (1963), Justice Tom Clark wrote:
It might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.
At the Religious Freedom Center, we are convinced that education about religion is not only constitutional; education about religion is necessary for understanding the world around us, whether or not we are religious ourselves.
4) Yes, the distinction between teaching religion as dogma and as an academic pursuit. In turn, how does the study of religion support efforts by schools to implement global citizenship and cultural competency programs?
According to the American Academy of Religion’s 2010 guidelinesfor teaching about religion, religious literacy is defined as “the ability to discern and analyze the intersection of religion with social, political, and cultural life.” This definition inextricably links the study of religion with the study of culture. If our students are to understand history or contemporary politics and culture, they must understand religion and the relationship between religious communities. If students are to live productive, respectful lives in a religiously diverse democracy and an increasingly interconnected world, they need to know about how religion motivates and sustains people in a fractured era. Students—who may be religious or atheists, who may live in deeply religious communities or pervasively secular cities—also need to recognize that not everyone belongs to a religious community.
The academic study of religion will enrich schools’ efforts to cultivate students’ global competency and cultural literacy. We do not expect schools to create standalone religion courses. Instead, we hope that schools will think about how to integrate the study of religion in existing curricula. For example, think about how much richer a lesson about the American Civil Rights Movement or the partition of Indiawould be if students consider the religious forces at work.
5) Please share some successes you and the Religious Freedom Center have had in the K-12 education world.
We are delighted that the National Council for the Social Studies approved the Religious Studies Companion Document as an official part of theCollege, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standardsin June 2017. This document is the first of its kind adopted by a major national education organization. Teachers and administrators can refer to the guidelines to learn about the disciplinary concepts and skills related to the academic study of religion that students should master by the time they graduate high school.
This was a collaborative effort of an eight-person writing team, a thirty-person advisory committee, and our partners at the American Academy of Religion. I was proud to chair the writing committee of that document in my capacity at the Religious Freedom Center, and I am thrilled to see that some districts around the country have already begun to align their curricula with the guidelines.
We provide a number of training opportunities and curricular resources for K-12 educators. Educators might enroll in a graduate-level, semester-long class with the Religious Freedom Center designed to train teachers to teach about religion. If they do not have time for a semester-long class, they might choose to logon to our professional development website, Constitution2Classroom.org. There they can enroll in our free, on-demand, self-paced professional development modules, each of which take roughly one hour to complete and include videos, readings, interactive games, and reflection questions. Our online modules cover topics related to religious freedom concerns in schools, religious literacy, and civil dialogue.
Teachers might also choose to arrange a consultation between the Center and their department, district or school. We often organize live professional development workshops—at your school, in the Newseum, or via Zoom.
If educators are interested in working with us in a way not listed here, we encourage them to reach out to us so that we can discuss their request in greater detail.
Last but not least, we encourage educators to visit our website, ReligiousFreedomCenter.org, to access free guidelines, consensus statements, and classroom resources about religion and public education.
7) What’s on the horizon for the Religious Freedom Center in the immediate future and beyond?
This summer the Religious Freedom Center has partnered with the National Council for the Social Studies to offer a Religious Studies Summer Institute from July 10-12 in Washington, DC. Participants will broaden their professional competence with the disciplinary concepts and tools of religious studies, and they will increase their confidence in teaching about religion in constitutionally appropriate ways. Educators can register online.
We are also pleased to work with the Society of Biblical Literature to create academically rigorous and constitutionally appropriate lesson plans about the Bible and related topics for U.S. history and world history classrooms. SBL is the world’s largest association of scholars who study the Bible from an academic perspective. Teachers should contact us for a copy of those lesson plans, which should be available mid-summer.
Beyond this summer, we plan to deepen and broaden our relationship with schools and districts interested in teaching about religion. We are incredibly lucky to have a variety of training opportunities and resources available for educators. Our goal now is to spread the word as far and wide as possible.
8) Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
The Religious Freedom Center is here to support you! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or requests. We would love to work with you. In an increasingly polarized age, students need the knowledge and skills to navigate difficult questions related to religion and public life. Our future as a productive, rights-based, religiously diverse country depends on it.
Thank you Ben. I look forward to our continued work together. Each opportunity has benefited our teachers, students, and my work in social studies education. I encourage readers to reach out to Ben and the Religious Freedom Center. Their support will help prepare students to be successful in the future.
… And by “WOW!” I mean: Wow, I need to use these with my students. OR …Wow, I need to share these with my colleagues. OR Wow, I am inspired to develop my own digital history project. Of course a synthesis of all 3 is the sweet spot. That was the course of action leading to the development of my US History in a Global Context project.
What is digital history? Indeed, defining your terms is usually a great place to start. I have found these explanations to be useful and bring moments of clarity which ultimately furthers the conversation and utility of these types of projects.
The American Historical Association: “Digital history might be understood broadly as an approach to examining and representing the past that works with the new communication technologies of the computer, the internet network, and software systems.”
Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University “Digital history is an approach to examining and representing the past that takes advantage of new communication technologies such as computers and the Web. It draws on essential features of the digital realm, such as databases, hypertextualization, and networks, to create and share historical knowledge.”
I have had the pleasure of working on multiple digital history projects. So, let’s look a bit further and see what formats digital history projects can take. In short, when we discuss digital history, we can be referencing a number of types and purposes. The common aspects being that they are accessible to the public and organized around a theme(s). This list comes (in part) from the Organization of American Historians.
Archive: a site that provides a body of primary sources. Could also include collections of documents or databases of materials.
Essay, Exhibit, Digital Narrative: something created or written specifically for the Web or with digital methods, that serves as a secondary source for interpreting the past by offering a historical narrative or argument. This category can also include maps, network visualizations, or other ways of representing historical data.
Teaching Resource: a site that provides online assignments, syllabi, other resources specifically geared toward using the Web, or digital apps for teaching, including educational history content for children or adults, pedagogical training tools, and outreach to the education community.
Gateway/Clearinghouse: a site that provides access to other websites or Internet-based resources.
Podcasts: video and audio podcasts that engage audiences on historical topics and themes.
Games: challenging interactive activities that educate through competition or role playing, finding evidence defined by rules and linked to a specific outcome. Games can be online, peer-to- peer, or mobile.
Wonderful! With classrooms having access to computers and moving to 1:1 formats, quality digital resources is in demand. The good news is that they are out there. But these are only good if they get used. To that end, I have curated a collection of digital history projects that are designed for high school and higher education history and social studies classes. These selections offer a variety of implementation pathways allowing immediate use with students (either in full or in part). Additionally, these would be relevant for history/social science methods classes.
Here is one more general resource, a short video, to help frame and advance your understanding before you dive into the digital history resources.
What project did I miss? What do you think of these? Let me know and contact the project designers so they know who is using the resource they created. Enjoy!
1. The 68.77.89 Project: Arts, Culture, and Social Change: Created by The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, this resource was just launched in early 2018! Students will be challenged to apply the lessons from the experiences of Czechs and Slovaks to better understand issues of democracy today and their responsibility for preserving democracy for the future. 68.77.89 is designed for students in grades 9-12. It provides a set of 12 learning activities in 4 modules that meet Common Core, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate standards. The activities can be used as a set designed to be used together, or in single modules as free-standing lessons. Images of the 4 modules is below.
2. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database:This is a remarkable tool which synthesizes data with visualization formats very effectively. The database “has information on almost 36,000 slaving voyages that forcibly embarked over 10 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. In order to present the trans-Atlantic slave trade database to a broader audience, particularly a grade 6-12 audience, a dedicated team of teachers and curriculum developers from around the United States developed lesson plans that explore the database. Utilizing the various resources of the website, these lessons plans allow students to engage the history and legacy of the Atlantic slave trade in diverse and meaningful ways. Here is one example of a search I did.
3. Slavery Images:Don’t let the simple look of this collection dissuade you. It is a remarkable resource! “The 1,280 images in this collection have been selected from a wide range of sources, most of them dating from the period of slavery. This collection is envisioned as a tool and a resource that can be used by teachers, researchers, students, and the general public.” The search feature is easy and inviting. This photo is from their collection. Powerful indeed. Interior courtyard, where captive Africans were assembled, and “Gate of No Return,” the passageway through which they were led to the beach and from there to slaving vessels waiting offshore. (Photographed by Michael Tuite in Ghana; Aug. 1999)
4. Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean:This is an intriguing world history curriculum. Given the unique geography of the transitions currently underway in the Middle East (several geographically contiguous North African states) and the likelihood that interactions between Europe, northern Africa, Turkey, and the Arab world will constitute a vitally important sub-region of globalization going forward, new cross-Mediterranean tendrils of economic and civil society connectivity will be necessary to help anchor these transitions. An outline of the modules can be viewed here.
5.Rethinking the Region: North Africa and the Middle East: Another contribution to the field of world history, this project “analyzed the common categories used to describe and teach the Modern Middle East and North Africa in existing World History textbooks. Based on this research, we offer robust alternatives for Grade 9-12 social studies teachers and multicultural educators that integrate new scholarship and curricula on the region. To this end, we examined the ways in which the region is framed and described historically, and analyzed categories like the ‘rise and spread of Islam,’ the Crusades, and the Ottoman Empire. Narratives surrounding these events and regions tend to depict discrete and isolated civilizations at odds with one another. To remedy this oversimplification, our work illuminates the manners in which peoples and societies interacted with each other in collaborative and fluid ways at different political and historical junctures.
6.Histography: “Histography” is interactive timeline that spans across 14 billion years of history, from the Big Bang to 2015. The site draws historical events from Wikipedia and self-updates daily with new recorded events. The interface allows for users to view between decades to millions of years. The viewer can choose to watch a variety of events which have happened in a particular period or to target a specific event in time. For example you can look at the past century within the categories of war and inventions. Histography was created as a final project in Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. Guided by Ronel Mor. Below is a screenschot of the platform.
7. American Yawp: “In an increasingly digital world in which pedagogical trends are de-emphasizing rote learning and professors are increasingly turning toward active-learning exercises, scholars are fleeing traditional textbooks… The American Yawp offers a free and online, collaboratively built, open American history textbook designed for college-level history courses. Unchecked by profit motives or business models, and free from for-profit educational organizations, The American Yawp is by scholars, for scholars. All contributors—experienced college-level instructors—volunteer their expertise to help democratize the American past for twenty-first century classrooms.” This is being used in high schools as well. Also, you can offer insights and edits for the editors to consider.
8. Mapping American Social Movements in the 20th Century: “This project produces and displays free interactive maps showing the historical geography of dozens of social movements that have influenced American life and politics since the start of the 20th century, including radical movements, civil rights movements, labor movements, women’s movements, and more. Until now historians and social scientists have mostly studied social movements in isolation and often with little attention to geography. This project allows us to see where social movements were active and where not, helping us better understand patterns of influence and endurance. It exposes new dimensions of American political geography, showing how locales that in one era fostered certain kinds of social movements often changed political colors over time.” The screenshot below shows a sample of an interactive map. Fantastic!
9. Eagle Eye Citizen: Made by the invaluable team at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, Eagle Eye engages middle and high school students in solving and creating interactive challenges about Congress, American history, civics, and government with Library of Congress primary sources. This helps develop students’ civic understanding and historical thinking skills. It is highly interactive and invites students and teachers to use existing challenges and develop their own.
10. Mapping the 4th of July: Mapping the Fourth of July is a crowdsourced digital archive of primary sources that reveal how Americans celebrated July 4 during the Civil War era. These sources reveal how a wide range of Americans — northern and southern, white and black, male and female, Democrat and Republican, immigrant and native born — all used the Fourth to articulate their deepest beliefs about American identity during the great crisis of the Civil War… Whether you teach at the college or high school level, your students will jump at the chance to learn about how a previous generation of Americans celebrated the Fourth. (Yes, there were fireworks!) These are engaging documents that open up big themes: North-South differences; the causes and consequences of the Civil War; African American experiences of emancipation. On our website you’ll find standards-based assignment guidelines that make it easy to integrate it into your courses.
11.Back Story: Incredible podcast focusing on American history topics in a range of contexts. The hosts are fun, informed, and engaging. BackStory is a weekly podcast that uses current events in America to take a deep dive into our past. Hosted by noted U.S. historians, each episode provides listeners with different perspectives on a particular theme or subject – giving you all sides to the story and then some. Also, a resources icon indicates that the episode has educator resources available. Use BackStory in your classroom! Just go to the episode archives and filter by episodes with resources.
This resource feels like the “godfather” of digital history projects. “Since its establishment in August 1991, the Cold War International History Project (CWIHP) has amassed a tremendous collection of archival documents on the Cold War era from the once secret archives of former communist countries. CWIHP has become internationally recognized as the world’s preeminent resource on the Cold War.” The help organize and search the trove of documents, you search using a map, timeline (going back to 1866… great extended context) and contains over 30 featured collections (sample below).
“The perversity of racism is not inherent in the nature of human beings. We are not racist; we become racist just as we may stop being that way.” – Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Heart, 1997
This past year I found myself thinking differently about my identity. The change would occur whenever I was completing the “race” category/prompt you find on official forms. You know what I am referring to (check out the image to the right). Additionally, my school system began to provide cultural competence training that framed diversity largely in racial terms but without addressing what race is. This seemed to be a significant disconnect. How can you talk about something without defining or explaining it?
Combined, these two factors started a distinct change in my behavior from what had been the norm for over 3 decades. Instead of checking “White” on these forms, I began selecting “I do not wish to provide this information” or an option with similar wording. I must admit, however, that this action is contingent on an important variable – whether or not the document had defined their categories of race (see below). Defining terms/concepts is indeed an important if we want to engage with them effectively and with depth. In this case it is especially significant as race is a “hot button” topic and not an objective category across this planet.
Rather, how we conceive of race is informed in part by history, societal factors, and context. For example, look at samples from these early 21st century census surveys.
What is going on in each of these and why can’t they all have the same items?
Also, our own understanding about race is informed by our personal learning network and how race is taught in schools. To explore the topic of teaching about race I propose this key question, “Is there genetic/biological evidence for the argument that there are multiple races of humans?” With that let’s take a look at some ideas, resources, and suggested follow up questions you can use with your community.
Race is not a Myth
People who claim that race is a myth must explain themselves a bit further. Social constructs are real in that they impact people’s actions and beliefs as well as government’s policies and practices. For example, the fluidity of race as a construct and political/economic/social category has existed in the US since the late 18th century. “Every U.S. census since the first one in 1790 has included questions about racial identity, reflecting the central role of race in American history from the era of slavery to current headlines about racial profiling and inequality. But the ways in which race is asked about and classified have changed from census to census, as the politics and science of race have fluctuated. And efforts to measure the multiracial population are still evolving.” Indeed, the 2020 census may offer “more examples of the origins that fall under each racial/ethnic category… That census will also drop the word “Negro” from what had been the “Black, African American, or Negro” response option.”
Like culture, and gender, and ethnicity, how we conceive of race can yield an all too real set of pre-conceived notions and beliefs that are seen as “natural” or scientific. These packaged sets of qualities become static, essentialized, and expected traits about a group. This process of “othering” reduces a group’s range of variety to an oversimplified point on a spectrum. Checkout how the recent film Get Out conveyed this psycho-anthropological phenomenon.
John Willinsky’s fantastic work Learning to Divide the World: Education at Empire’s Endnarrates the impact empires had on the racial social constructs that persist. The imperial experiments produced a classification designed to order humans in a hierarchy of development. The European Enlightenment’s drive to categorize the world manifested a science of race that “offered the most monstrous of imperialism’s lessons… the scientific constitution of races in the West brought greater force and significance of difference to the naming of the other. It further ordered European interests in dividing the world to its advantage.”
Human zoos brought this continuum to life in the 19th, and 20th centuries at the Worlds Fair and similar regional exhibitions in London, Paris, Milan, and New York and beyond. In their most “instructive” role, human zoos would present various groups on a trajectory ranging from primitive/savage to advanced/civilized.
Dissenting voices about the taxonomy of race were rare. However, in 1791 Johann Gottfeid von Herder wrote “There are neither four or five races. All mankind are only one.” (emphasis is Herder’s). Over 150 years later after the killing of World War II, UNESCO’s 1951 statement on race is explicit: “Scientists have reached the general agreement in recognizing that mankind is one: that all men belong to the same species, Homo Sapiens.”
But I wonder how many people would currently agree with or know about this statement? What is informing their concept of race? Shouldn’t race be taught using the consensus of contemporary scientific communities?
The opportunity to inform and provide people with a useful base and conceptual framework is a necessary and powerful tool. As Freire notes (in the opening quote) humans can change. Education can facilitate that change.
The student will apply social science skills to understand how the nation grew and changed from the end of Reconstruction through the early twentieth century by d) analyzing the impact of prejudice and discrimination, including “Jim Crow” laws, the responses of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, and the practice of eugenics in Virginia
(We believe similar gaps of intentional usage for race exist in IB and AP equivalent classes. But a more exhaustive effort will be needed to confirm this lack of intentionality).
So, where is one to find tools, information, and resources that can be used with students and colleagues to teach about race? As a start, I have included some influential documentaries and journal articles below. I do hope these items spark further inquiry and inspiration. Please, keep me posted of what you find.
13th – Filmmaker Ava DuVernay explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans. (2016).
The Chinese Exclusion Act – A new film by Ric Burns and Li-Shin Yu and scheduled to appear on PBS American Experience in 2017.
LA 92 – A look at the events that led up to the 1992 uprising in Los Angeles following the Rodney King beating by the police. (2017)
Shoah – Claude Lanzmann’s epic documentary recounts the story of the Holocaust through interviews with witnesses – perpetrators as well as survivors. (1985)
The UN SDGs
The UN goals provide so much educational value. They are, in essence, a 21st century curriculum. Unbridled by disciplines, the UN SDGs are accessible by all fields of study and celebrates relevance where some educators, parents, and students offer limited expressions for the “Why?” of education.
Over century ago in 1900 in London at the Pan-African Convention, W.E.B. Du Bois gave a closing statement titled “To the Nations of the World” . Du Bois states that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line, the question of how far differences of race-which show themselves chiefly in the color of skin and the texture of the hair-will hereafter be made the basis of denying to over half the world the right of sharing to their utmost ability the opportunities and privileges of modern civilization.” The problem clearly continues in the 21st century in varying forms – structures of power, ignorance, hate, identity politics etc. Thankfully race has not gone unnoticed on the global stage.
Goal 10 of the UN SDGs addresses race as a list of categories that as Du Bois noted, deny “the opportunities and privileges of modern civilization.” Taken on its own, or in conjunction with other SDG, Goal 10 demands that race be part of the learning experiences we provide for students and part of the discussions we have in order to take action.
Goal 10 calls for reducing inequalities in income as well as those based on age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status within a country. The Goal also addresses inequalities among countries, including those related to representation, migration and development assistance.
For the UN SDG to be a relevant part of students’ learning, connections to the topic must be explicit and intentional. Moreover, the UN SDGs lend themselves to grade level through the project based learning, inquiry, blended learning, and problem based learning models. Checkout the video below for a summary of goal 10.
Your Action Items – Ask these Questions
I feel that this blog post is, sadly, timely. These past few days I came across two stories that involved racially motivated attacks and killings. Maybe a better way to put it is that the assaults were motivated by ignorance. One significant aspect of each story is how “race” is framed.
Please know that I am not stating that education is the solution to all problems. But, I do believe that how we teach something is significant. Currently, we seem to discredit race as concept necessary for students to understand both scientifically and socially.
By not explicitly teaching about race as a flawed and limited social construct that has no scientific backing, then we are not even trying to address the limited understanding and world views that exist. This can, at worst, lead to violent behavior and dismiss the topic to another generation to content with – see Du Bois above.
To close, I offer these questions for you to consider as a way to start talking and teaching about race in the 21st century in your community. Doing so may lead to some of the most significant conclusions and “a-ha” moments your students and colleagues will have both now and in the future.
To what extent and in what ways do your local, state, or programmatic curriculum/standards address race?
If your school provides professional learning on inter-cultural competency or diversity training, how do they present race?
How does your community (students, colleagues, parents, administration, school board) think and act regarding topics related to race?
When and how do students have the opportunity to learn about and engage with race?
What perspectives and resources inform you and your community about race?
To what extent is race a taboo topic in your school?
In interviews, can the people you hire explain their understanding of concepts like – gender, ethnicity, class, and race?
History is the construction of our understanding of the past. Taking part in that process is an existential exercise which, in turn, influences our contemporary world view. These three quotes remind me about the importance and power of narrative creation and its subsequent relationship to collective and individual identity.
“It seems evident, then, that skill in narrative construction and narrative understanding is crucial to constructing our lives and a “place” for ourselves in the possible world we will encounter.” – Jerome Bruner
”Over time and cultures, the most robust and most effective form of communication is the creation of a powerful narrative.” – Howard Gardner
Moreover, the recognition, creation, and analysis of historical narratives are essential activities for students in history classes in high school and higher education. What resources teachers use with students, as well as the explicit connection to broad concepts and contemporary realities all make for relevant and valuable teaching and learning. I had the pleasure of meeting professor Trevor Getz at a recent AHA planning meeting for the 2018 Conference being held in Washington D.C. Our interview highlights his work with students and the use of graphic novels to develop their historical thinking. Trevor can be reached at either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
1- Tell us about your journey to becoming a historian and your interest in studying Africa. I learned to love history sitting on my grandpa’s knee while he told stories of “the war.” I was the only grand kid who
Professor of History Trevor Getz, poses in front of scenes from his scholarly graphic novel “Abina and the Important Men.” Getz recently created a company called Ebuukuu.com to apply this graphic model to other areas of study. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress
wanted to listen. I loved touching his medals, and watching as he drew pictures of fortifications, and looking through his black-and-white photo albums. I thought I wanted to be a military historian, but then as an undergraduate at Berkeley I learned to love political history, and doing my MA in Cape Town came to appreciate social history, and finally began my transition to cultural history during my PhD research at the School of Oriental and African Studies. In the process, I became immersed in the history of Africa. My first real mentor was Chris Saunders, at the University of Cape Town, who tamed my rambunctious American-ness with his precise and calm Anglo ways. Then with the larger-than-life and wonderfully inspiring professor, Richard Rathbone – truly a spectacular mentor and a fixture in the study of Ghana’s past.
2- When did graphic novels come into the mix and how have they impacted your teaching?
My dissertation (and subsequent first book) was very much a social history – putting together many different sources in an attempt to converge them on an explanation for social change in the wake of the criminalization of slavery in nineteenth century Ghana and Senegal. But in the years that followed, I learned to dig deep into single sources, figuring out how to pull apart one document or picture or diary account and explain what it meant. Most of the sources I was working with, it turned out, featured young people – enslaved or otherwise suffering, but frequently strong and inspiring nevertheless. I wanted to bring their stories, their accounts, and their worldviews to the public. I was searching, for much of the 2000s, for a medium that would allow me to do that. I had to dig back into my own past to find one. Of course, not everyone could have a Grampa like mine to inspire them to study the past, and these stories in any case didn’t lend themselves to grandparently memory. But the other “history” inspiration of my youth was the comic book – including Franco-Belgian works like Tintinbut also Art Spiegelman’s incredible Maus. So, I thought I’d experiment with comics (or the “graphic novel”) as a medium for telling the story of a young, enslaved woman who forced the government of a Crown Colony to listen to her. Thanks in part to an incredible editor (Charles Cavaliere at Oxford UP) and wonderful artist-collaborator (Liz Clarke in South Africa) it somehow worked out, and Abina and the Important Men came into being. Now we’ve developed a multi-platform app as well, for the high school classroom. Any teacher interested in trying out the app should email me.
This is a book about NOW, because it’s a book about power. It’s about the power that important men use to subjugate others, like Abina Mansah, who was twice enslaved and then censored and silenced. It’s about the power that even seemingly defenseless people have to make their voice heard, as Abina did in that colonial courtroom. It’s about the power that historians have (and sometimes abuse) to tell people’s stories in a way that appeals to them, and the power that we all have to challenge and correct historians’ interpretations. Power is part of any society, but we don’t have to accept the way it operates, just as Abina refused to accept attempts to silence her.
4- I argue that one of the best skills people develop from studying history is that they learn how to analyze and evaluate narratives. What do you think are some practical skills students develop by studying the past?
Historians, I firmly believe, are interpreters. The past is a foreign country, and we try to help people in the present to understand what is said and done there, and what it means. Learning to analyze and evaluate not only primary sources but also the work of scholars is a key step in developing a critical mind and media literacy. I talk about this quite a bit in a brief video put together at SF State. I love working with teachers who develop critical tools for this kind of work as well. I especially appreciate the incredible mock trial and role playing exercises that David Sherrin from Harvest Collegiate put together to help students analyze and interpret Abina’s testimony.
5- Great. And what about the relating the study of the past to understand globalization? Any major connections?
Everything is global, right? Just like everything is local. We are much richer today for understanding the ways in which even the deep past was shaped by interaction between people, products, species, and ideas moving between societies often separated by vast distances. What we’ve learned is that in analyzing any situation in the present, we have to develop a scope that includes factors both near and far as well as from the recent and distant past. But how can we move from knowing that this need exists to actually effectively conducting analysis of global as well as local factors? That’s a difficult question, and one on which many historians are working. Obviously, we can’t answer it here. But I do have one thought that has become clear to me over the past several years: there’s no point in teaching content without teaching the underlying skills to work with and interpret it. Telling students that the global past matters doesn’t do anything unless they know how to read or view sources and pull from them the evidence of global interaction.
6- What’s on the horizon for you and any final comments?
I’m working on so many projects! I have a book on teaching African history about to come out with Duke University Press, a volume I’m co-editing with Rebecca Shumway on slavery and its legacy in Ghana and the Diaspora, and a pet long-term project using comics, other forms of art, oral tradition, and pop-up museums to understand how Ghanaians study their own past. But I’m also teaching, and being an administrator. Most of all, though, I continue to try to think of interesting strategies to engage students with the past in ways that help them to build critical and creative skills they will need for their lives moving forward.
Thank you Trevor. I look forward to future scholarship and collaboration, and wish you a great 2017!
Across the United States the new school year has commenced. To kick off SY 16-17 I want to share some thoughts & resources that impacted, or reinforced, my views on education this summer. Specifically, this post emphasizes the need for building student understanding of and ability to succeed in a globalized world. How teachers design learning experiences for students (the combination of resources, instruction, assessment, and student outcomes) is indicative of a teacher’s vision and understanding of the purpose of education.
As you explore the post and resources below, keep in mind 3 common aspects of the type of education I am highlighting:
Content/Course work is always framed or connected to contemporary issues or present circumstances.
The teacher is a facilitator of learning and supports student inquiry and development of skills and
Students are expected to take action or produce information for public interaction and/or for the development of their own world view. In short, assessments go beyond just the teacher’s eyes.
Ok, my point of entry for this topic is a very simple yet powerful reflective prompt. In the last few months, this
question has repeatedly popped up in various media and manifested in conversations I had with people from a range of professional backgrounds. Drum roll…
That question is: Are you teaching for tomorrow?
Despite being simple, this question generates complex and stimulating responses. Moreover, it can very well be the cornerstone of your personal educational philosophy, a guiding principle for a team/department, or, starting point to develop an instructional/assessment model. In other words, if an adult walked into a classroom, would they feel like they time traveled to their high school experience of 1970s, 1980s, 1990s etc? This would imply t hat students are being taught for 20th century goals with 20th century methods and beliefs. If so, that is an an eyebrow raiser indeed.
The most compelling way to teach for tomorrow is to utilize practices that address global citizenship – a combination of knowledge, skills, and dispositions whose goal focuses on students’ futures – not to replicate the educational experiences their teacher had. (On a side note it is imperative to prepare teachers to be globally competent in pre-service programs and to continue that training with continuing development opportunities. However, this is for a future post but a teaser is provided below with the collaborative tool, Padlet).
Ok, watch this inspiring Ted Talk about Global Citizenship/Education which includes the practice being done in urban centers and with elementary students.
What a great video… multiple main themes are expressed with applications. Moreover, the sentiment about teaching for tomorrow is framed in practical contexts. Mary Hayden puts it this way:
Even for those school-age students today who will never in adulthood leave their native shores, the future is certain to be so heavily influenced by international developments and their lives within national boundaries so affected by factors emanating from outside those boundaries that they will be hugely disadvantaged by an education that has not raised their awareness of, sensitivity to and facility with issues arising from beyond a national “home” context.
By the way, if this statement doesn’t impact, reinforce, change, or inspire the way you teach or develop your own practice please let me know. We need to talk.
So, What Can Teaching For the Future Look Like?
I mentioned above 4 inroads for teachers to make a global turn for teaching and learning- resources, instruction, assessment, and student outcomes. The suggestions below address each of these inroads (they are not mutually exclusive). Utilizing any of them with your classes explicitly and intentionally teaches for tomorrow. Content knowledge, skills, and students’ world views are developed from a stance that is forward looking and applicable beyond classroom walls. Additionally, globalization (and all its systems, issues, possibilities etc.) – not nationalism, not a test, not industrialization -moves to the center of your students’ classroom experiences.
Here are some tools and suggestions to consider and follow up on. The bold orange headings are the topics/practices that embraces global education and citizenship. Below them are links to online tools and resources related to the headings in orange. These are only a start…
The UN Sustainable Development Goals – These 17 goals really need to be on your radar. The new SDG are perfect for Project Based Learning, Inquiry, Performance Based Assessments, and Taking Informed Action. The SDG are a newer space so you will be creating and adding to the landscape of global education using the SDGs.
Consumerism/Globalization– To what extent do national economies exist in a globalized world? These tools highlight the web of global capitalism. Big time world view developer… reminds me of Hannah Arendt and the banality of (consumer) evil.
So, to finish this post, but not this topic, I want share one more video that addresses the importance of global citizenship and effectively discredits the claim that global citizenship is impossible because of its reliance on nationhood. To those individuals I refer them to the realities of stateless refugees and to the team of refugees who competed in the Rio Olympics.
Enjoy exploring the suggested readings and the Padlet comments below. Lastly, Teach for Tomorrow! Your students and the world will be grateful.
Globalization has changed the purpose of education. In response to the demands of an increasingly complex, nuanced, and connected world, schools in the United States offer a variety of global experiences for students. These approaches seek to develop students’ global competencies. One way these competencies can be met is to globalize the teaching and learning of U.S. History.
Additionally, we hope that the project develops your advocacy for this approach to teaching U.S. History. Ultimately, by using this “global turn” you will better prepare your students to succeed in the future.
For an overview of the resource, watch this screencast:
“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.”
I hope you enjoy and utilize this resource. It will go through monthly updates throughout 2016. If you would like to contribute to the resource, please reach out through the U.S, in Global Context feedback area.