Globalizing US History: How To Do It!

This past summer the first annual Untold History Institute was held in New York City. The event was attended by mostly secondary educators from multiple states.  I had the honor of leading a workshop that weekend on Globalizing US History.   The institute coincided with Untold History’s release in Brazil this July.  Having lived there for 6 years, I  can easily imagine what book stores in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro would be featuring the text.  But I digress…  In addition to the workshops, Oliver Stone attended a viewing of an episode of the multi-volume documentary. Following the airing, Mr. Stone along with Dr. Peter Kuznick  and myself took part in a panel discussion and Q and A session with the audience moderated by former NCSS President and current state Social Studies Consultant for Connecticut Stephen Armstrong.

Untold New

(L – R) Armstrong, Perrier, Kuznick, and Stone

Incidentally, the documentary series is excellent.  I especially enjoy the later episodes that focus on the Clinton – Obama administrations.

So, how does this all get us back to the purpose of this post?  As an educator I believe it is important to start with and be able to answer the “Why?” of teaching and learning. Simply put, I should be able to provide valid rationales (both mine and others, for example the La Pietra Report) for instructional, assessment, content, and student outcome decisions.   But at the Untold History Institute, participants came to the event with the “Why?” already answered.

This freed up time to address the “How?” of globalizing US History.  This is an equally important question that moves theory into practice.  I must note, the general feeling among teachers was to start small and build from there. Moreover, because time is precious, finding and sharing of resources that can be used to globalize US History is a practice we encourage.

Regardless of the approach(es) you use, teachers must decide how they will frame the nation as a tool for historical investigation with their students. Each of the approaches recognizes the nation-state as a way to explore the past, but assert that using the nation as a lens to the past is not the only way or the best way for students to conceptualize history.

Below, I have provided an overview of the 4 approaches I used in the workshop. Please note, it is better not to view these as mutually exclusive. Rather these 4 approaches have nuances that distinguish them from each other but still overlap or are used in tandem.

 1) Comparative Approach:  Framing US events, people, ideas etc. in relation to a non-US equivalent.  By doing this, students are provided a context and relational view.

-Example:   Everything is relative, but conclusions can be made/argued in context.  Comparison informs our claims about “how revolutionary the American Revolution was” or “how powerful is the US economy.”

-Sample Resource:

  • World War 2 Casualties:  An animated data-driven documentary about war and peace, The Fallen of World War II looks at the human cost of the second World War and sizes up the numbers to other wars in history, including trends in recent conflicts..

2) Transnational Approach:The nation is not the focus of historical engagement.  Rather ideas, groups, events  etc are recognized as phenomenon that cross borders. In addition, historical actors in this approach are not the common textbook actors.  In turn, terms like hybridity, interaction, fusion, synthesis etc are used in opposition to claims of self-contained, static, packaged national/cultural units.

-Example: This was the approach the summer workshop teachers used (they blew me away).  Their topic was looking at emancipation from a transnational perspective. This recognizes that ideas travel and are guided by people and groups and not necessarily by nations or governments.

-Sample Resources

3) Non-US Perspective about “US” Events:  At the heart of this approach is the question, “Can we learn about ourselves from the way others see us?” Teachers use non-US perspectives to question national claims, beliefs, and preconceived notions  about US history.Poster - Shameful Brand of American "Democracy"

  -Example:  The sky is the limit.  The book History Lessons (below)  is an interesting start by looking at how textbooks around the world introduce US history.  In my experience, the Civil War and Civil Rights era are commonly explored from a non-US perspective.

-Sample Resource:  Soviet Propaganda Poster (1963)  The caption reads “Shameful Brand of American “Democracy” under a lynching scene. 

 

 

4)Thematic Approach: US events are situated as an example of larger themes in world history.  It is important to note that global events retain local/national variations and are not seen as simply repeated events.  In this approach US is part of world history, not an exceptional other. 

-Example: The American Civil War had a global impact.  Framing the war as part of a trend in world history that centralized political power and secured national boundaries places our historical view at 80,000 feet.

-Sample Resource:  I created this ThingLink tool to visualize the claim above.

 

In Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 the exchange between a young US soldier and older Italian is one of my favorites.  What do you make of it?   Does it relate to any contemporary events? What about the impact of nuclear weapons on global politics and power?  Is morality a national or human universal?

Anyway, I am going to finish with this short list of resources.  They have all influenced my thinking, teaching, and world view.  Lastly, on Wednesday, November 18th at 6:00 PM EST I will be leading a session on this topic during the 2015 Global Education Conference.  Stop in if you can (it’s online) or watch the recording. More to come…

Enjoy!

 

Suggested Books thatHelp You Globalize US History

  1. History Lessons (2004) – Dana Lindaman and Kyle Ward: The widely contrasting approaches to U.S. history that can be found in the textbooks of other nations.
  2. Transnational Nation (2007) Ian Tyrrell: The development of nationalism, movement of peoples, imperialism, industrialization, environmental change and the struggle for equality are all key themes in the study of both US history and world history. 
  3. America in the World (2007) – Carl Guarneri: This text examines how larger global processes have had a role in each stage of American development, how this country’s experiences were shared by people elsewhere, and how America’s growing influence ultimately changed the world.
  4. American Compared Vol 1 and 2 (2006) Carl Guarneri: Ideal for instructors seeking to present U.S. history in a global context, this innovative reader pairs comparative readings on key issues such as slavery, immigration, imperialism, civil rights, and western expansion.
  5. The Twentieth Century World and Beyond (2011) – William Keylor: The book’s unique analytical framework–which focuses on the relationships between and among countries rather than on individual histories–helps students easily examine how the nations of the world have interacted since the beginning of the last century.
  6. Among Empires (2007) – Charles Maier: The book’s unique analytical framework–which focuses on the relationships between and among countries rather than on individual histories–helps students easily examine how the nations of the world have interacted since the beginning of the last century.
  7. A Nation Among Nations (2006) – Thomas Bender: Thomas Bender recasts the developments central to American history by setting them in a global context, and showing both the importance and ordinariness of America’s international entanglements over five centuries.
  8. America on the World Stage (2008) – Gary Reichard and Ted Dickson: Each xhapter covers a specific chronological period and approaches fundamental topics and events in United States history from an international perspective, emphasizing how the development of the United States has always depended on its transactions with other nations for commodities, cultural values, and populations.
  9. The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (2007) – Dave Armitage: In a stunningly original look at the American Declaration of Independence, David Armitage reveals the document in a new light: through the eyes of the rest of the world. Not only did the Declaration announce the entry of the United States onto the world stage, it became the model for other countries to follow.
  10. The Global Cold War (2007) – Odd Westad: This volume shows how the globalization of the Cold War during the 20th century created the foundations for most of today’s key international conflicts, including the “war on terror.”
  11. The Great American Mission: Modernization and the Construction of an American World Order (2010) – David Ekbladh: The text traces how America’s global modernization efforts during the twentieth century were a means to remake the world in its own image. For proponents, it became a valuable weapon to check the influence of menacing ideologies such as Fascism and Communism.
  12. The Wilsonian Moment (2009) – Erez Manela: This book is the first to place the 1919 Revolution in Egypt, the Rowlatt Satyagraha in India, the May Fourth movement in China, and the March First uprising in Korea in the context of a broader “Wilsonian moment” that challenged the existing international order.
  13. Teaching Global History (2011) – Alan Singer: The text challenges prospective and beginning social studies teachers to formulate their own views about what is important to know in global history and why. It explains how to organize the curriculum around broad social studies concepts and themes and student questions about humanity, history, and the contemporary world.
  14. Teaching Recent Global History (2014) – Diana Turk et al.: The authors’ unique approach unites historians, social studies teachers, and educational curriculum specialists to offer historically rich, pedagogically innovative, and academically rigorous lessons that help students connect with and deeply understand key events and trends in recent global history.
  15. Rethinking American History in the Global Age (2002) – Thomas Bender: In rethinking and reframing the American national narrative in a wider context, the contributors to this volume ask questions about both nationalism and the discipline of history itself. The essays offer fresh ways of thinking about the traditional themes and periods of American history.
  16. The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War (2015) – Don Doyle: A bold account of the international dimensions of America’s defining conflict, The Cause of All Nations frames the Civil War as a pivotal moment in a global struggle that would decide the survival of democracy.
  17. The Savage Wars of Peace (2002, 2014) – Max Boot: America’s smaller actions—such as the recent conflicts in Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo, and Afghanistan—have made up the vast majority of our military engagements, and yet our armed forces do little to prepare for these “low intensity conflicts.”A compellingly readable history of the forgotten wars that helped promote America’s rise in the last two centuries.

Summering with Shulman: What did you add to your (T)PCK Repertoire?

When I am asked by people for advice or have the ears of social studies educators I work with (rookie or veteran) I like to share this bit of advice–  “Each year, be sure to add at least one new aspect of teaching to your repertoire.”  I have come to consider this sentiment to be a core belief, maybe wisdom at this point, of my professional philosophy and personal world view.

This synthesis of professional and personal convictions reminds me of scholar Lee Shulman’s concept of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Shulman stressed the interplay of two domains often considered to be exclusive aspects of K-16 teaching: subject matter expertise and instruction. He reminds us,

“If teachers are to be successful they would have to confront both issues (of content and pedagogy) simultaneously, by embodying the aspects of content most germane to its teachability… It represents the blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular topics, problems, or issues are organized, represented, and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners, and presented for instruction.” (Shulman, 1986, p. 8-9)

Here is Shulman in 2011 reflecting on teaching and education.  The 55 minutes are well worth it. So get a coffee and some ice cream, and enjoy!

 

Welcome back. In 1987 Shulman co-authored an article I consider part of the pedagogical canon, “150 different ways of knowing: Representations of knowledge in teaching.”  In essence,  a synthesis of understanding by the teacher is part of each class and, in turn, the educator’s professional expertise. For example, using a high school English class reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin as an example, pedagogical uses of literature and the role of discussion  as an instructional strategy in uncovering meanings in the work, combined with subject matter knowledge of the history of slavery and abolition can be represented using a simple Venn diagram labeled with Shulman’s theory.

So, from Shulman, I return to my very simple recommendation: expand your instructional repertoire every year by trying something new that can help students engage with your content.  This summer my goal was…well still is… to improve my expertise with a range of educational technology tools  so that I can use them with my students and promote them among my colleagues. Each of them can be used with online, traditional and blended approaches to teaching and learning.  Moreover, the 6 tools below are applicable to a range of content areas. Mastering them and then using them with intent in your classes will place you in that sweet spot of Shulman’s Venn diagram.

 

1) Thinglink (Interactive Images)

This tool “develops interactive images that help students develop 21st-century skills and enrich their enthusiasm for learning… It’s an engaging, all-inclusive tool for students to demonstrate their learning, though its full potential depends on how teachers use it.”

I am super excited about this one.  You, and your students, can take any image (including maps, political cartoons, data charts, etc.) and add information to it – explanatory notes, prompts and questions, video, additional information, links, etc.  I created this one below to collect the Atlantic World via music. In the end, with ThingLink, your creativity, content knowledge. and instructional vision is the limit.

9 Songs About Society from the Atlantic World, 1957-1988

   

 

 

2) Google Cultural Institute: Historic Moments (Online Exhibits/Content) From the f0lks at Google, the Historic Moment portal to their umbrella website “Cultural Institute” provides “online exhibitions detailing the stories behind significant moments in human history. Each exhibition tells a story using documents, photos, videos and in some cases personal accounts of events.” Wow! Be sure to explore tutorials on the site or a growing repository by people online. The content is growing  and is useful for online, face to face, ad blended approaches to teaching about the past.  So far, my two favorites are “The Second World War in 100 Objects” and “Nelson Mandela: One Man’s Memory.”  Bookmark this one and share it far and wide.   

 

3) Joomla! (Content Management Platform)  “A content management platform is software that keeps track of every piece of content on your Web site, much like your local public library keeps track of books and stores them. Content can be simple text, photos, music, video, documents, or just about anything you can think of. A major advantage of using a CMS is that it requires almost no technical skill or knowledge to manage. A mobile-ready and user-friendly way to build your website. Choose from thousands of features and designs. Joomla! is free and open source.”  How do you organize and present you resources to students? Where can students interact with the assignments, resources, and assessments you create and use?  Joomla is ideal for creating your own electronic portfolio as well and getting your research out in the public sphere.    

 

4) Social Explorer (Visualizing Data): This tool was introduced to me by my colleague, Patti Winch. See, sharing does work! “Social Explorer provides quick and easy access to current and historical census data and demographic information. The easy-to-use web interface lets users create maps and reports to illustrate, analyze, and understand demography and social change.”  Amazingly, it contains data from each census back to 1790!  I am excited to tap into this tool with gusto.  Take a look at what can be done.  

 

    5) Screencast-o-matic  (Presentations) –Screencast-o-matic is video and audio screen capture software. In the classroom, Screencast-o-matic is useful for recording audio commentary on student writing, recording a mini-lecture, narrating a presentation, or any other function you can think of! Ok, so this isn’t a new one for me, but they have recently expanded by adding a bunch of new features.  So, I need to catch up.  I have students create their own explaining their final paper topic Here is a short example of a screencast I made and use in class.

 

      6) Ted Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing: (Online Lessons) “TED-Ed’s commitment to creating lessons worth sharing is an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas. Within TED-Ed’s growing library of lessons, you will find carefully curated educational videos, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform.”

My goal is to submit a lesson that will be accepted and then made into a Ted Ed lesson.  Review your resources, and your colleagues (because you can nominate teachers too) for outstanding lessons.  We all have gems that should be shared with as many educators and students.

Now, if these tools have not captured your interest, check out these two lists for more options.

 

So, where can this bring us. Back to Shulman of course, and then beyond.  By recognizing educational technology as a domain of knowledge for educators’ to master, we transfer PCK to TPCK.  “Technological pedagogical content knowledge refers to the knowledge and understanding of the interplay between CK, PK and TK when using technology for teaching and learning (Schmidt, Thompson, Koehler, Shin, & Mishra, 2009). It includes an understanding of the complexity of relationships between students, teachers, content, practices and technologies (Archambault & Crippen, 2009).”  

Whatever tools you add to your repertoire, I say congratulations! You have modeled life-long learning and are an inspiration to your students and colleagues.  Let me know what works for you, suggest additional tools, and stay in touch via twitter:  @CraigPerrier 

Enjoy the rest of your summer!   

Oliver Stone’s Untold History Project: Developing Historical Thinking and Argumentation in Students

Greetings from San Diego!  I recently had the pleasure of co-teaching an AP US History class on 20th Century US Foreign Policy.  The teacher, Mr. John Struck – 2014 Winner of the Gilder-Lehrman VA teacher of the year, and I created an “Opposing Viewpoints” lesson around the claim of “US Interwar Isolationism.”  The lesson targeted the course’s newly established  Historical Thinking Skills .  Specifically, we focused on these two: Historical argumentation and Appropriate use of relevant historical evidence and challenged students to formulate a short essay response based on the following sources:

    1. Our two 15 min presentations
    2. Prior knowledge (class textbook etc.)
    3. A general Q and A session where students could ask the presenters to clarify, elaborate etc.
    4. Structured small group discussions among students on how they would form their reply

Historical Thinking Skills – Historical Argumentation from The Gilder Lehrman Institute on Vimeo.

This approach to teaching and learning about the past, that is presenting students with a provocative question followed my multiple, opposing historical narratives (or constructed claims about the past) is an effective approach grounded in constuctivist theory. In this class the guiding question was “To what extent can US interwar foreign policy be considered isolationist?” In addition, students were exposed to content relevant concepts including “Soft Power”, “Hard Power”, “Agency”, and “Multi-lateral.”

In the 1987 Metahistory, historian Hayden White sketches this pluralistic standpoint as such: “we are free to conceive ‘history’ as we please, just as we are free to make of it what we will” (p. 433). In such a climate, the plurality of narratives, readings, and interests foregrounds polyphony, or in Ihab Hassan’s term “multivocation,” a postmodern feature that maintains that there exist multiple versions of reality or truths as read, seen, and interpreted from different perspectives.

Or, as French Philosopher Paul Ricoeur encapsulated and reminded us: “If it is true that there is always more than one way of construing a text, it is not true that all interpretations are equal.”

Simply beautiful!

 

Fast forward  to a 2015 article by Stephane Levesque, Probing the Historical Consciousness of Canadians and you can see this congealing of history education, narrative, and identity.  Levesque, professor of education at the University of Ottawa asks important and complex questions related to these themes:

  1. Is identity a key factor to relating to history?
  2. What historical sources do people consider trustworthy?
  3. How do they construct a sense of the collective past?
  4. How should classroom teachers engage students…in learning national history?
  5. What role should this kind of survey play in evaluating students’ prior historical knowledge and thinking?

Ultimately, Levesque notes the disconnect between High School History teachers and historical research and the subsequent difficulty to enact change at the secondary level. “Scholarly knowledge by itself is not enough to change practice. Simply telling teachers… about new evidence and urging them to change their practice is rather ineffective.”

teaching history logoI disagree with Levesque’s point somewhat. I have had multiple opportunities to work with scholars that brought about an expansion of my knowledge base and powerful reflection about my practice. I urge high school teachers to seek out these opportunities and in fact attempt to create such connections in m y current position.

Enter Dr. Eric Singer and Oliver Stone’s Untold History project.   I had a chance to talk with Singer, Historian, Principal Researcher and Educational Outreach Coordinator for Untold History of the United States.  The discussion  added to the topics mentioned above and highlighted what the project offers teachers, including free resources and a summer institute.  

Hi Eric. Thank you for taking some time to discuss history education. Who is involved in the Untold History of the United States project and what has been   your outreach to educators?

Involvement expands by the day.  Since late 2012, we have brought together a veritable army of people who crave an singeralternative to traditional historical narratives that have persisted for way too long.  Teachers, administrators, curriculum writers, activists, public intellectuals, journalists and academics have helped us organize screenings, develop curriculum, establish a vibrant website, organize speaking engagements and facilitate cross-disciplinary communication.

In 2012 I took on the role of Educational Outreach Coordinator for a new Untold History Education Project.  Since then, we have keynoted several social studies and education conferences including NCSS 2013 and ALA 2013.  We have also anchored scores of other events including a discussion with students at Stuyvesant High School in New York, the commemoration of the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, AR and the keynote of the 2015 Northern Nevada Council of Social Studies conference.  Along the way, we established an advisory group for the project that includes award-winning master teachers, curriculum specialists, leaders in the social studies field, academics and activists.

  Describe your resources and opportunities for educators and students.

We developed a curriculum guide to go along with the Untold History documentary and books.  The guide, which is aligned to the California State Social Studies Standards, is designed with Common Core in mind.  It is available for untold historyfree on our website.  The lesson plans contained within are all primary source-based, inductive and mindful of multiple teaching and learning styles.  They provide suggestions for teachers, but are flexibly crafted so that teachers can exercise their own creativity and employ their own expertise.

In December, we released Volume 1 of the Untold History Young Readers’ Edition, which boils down the content of the series and original adult book for middle and early high school students.  Volume 1 covers Reconstruction, war profiteering during World War I, the causes of the Great Depression, World War II and the decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The original Untold History book is currently being used in AP and other upper-level high school classrooms across the country and around the world.  Volumes 2, 3 and 4 are now in production and will be released in 2016 and 2017.

Any new plans or events coming up in the future?

In July, we will host the first annual Untold History summer teaching institute, Teaching “Untold” History.  The institute, which will run from Friday, July 10 through Sunday, July 12 is open to all middle and high school teachers.

 

Topics of concentration will include “Moving Beyond the Textbook,” “Globalizing US History” and “Deconstructing Engrained Narratives.”  This experience will be valuable to teachers of AP and IB instructional programs, as well as teachers of non-affiliated curriculum.  The ultimate goal is to establish methods that empower students to think critically about history and the world around them, so that they may become better informed participants in the democratic process.

 

The institute will also attempt to critique historiographical approaches to instruction.  Ultimately, we will publish our curricular products on the Untold History website, making them available to teachers across the country and around the world.  We will also seek out other potential venues for publication and outreach.

 

Thank you Eric.  I am looking forward to the July Conference! 

Information on the Conference is Provided Below. Hope to see you there.

Teaching “Untold” History Summer Institute July 10-12, 2015

East Side Middle School 331 E. 91st St.

New York, NY

Please join us for an exciting and invigorating weekend as we explore ways to engage multiple historical perspectives in the classroom. Historians, master teachers and curriculum specialists will lead intimate, interactive weekend-long workshops⎯out of which will come tangible curriculum designed for teaching some of the most controversial topics in recent history.

Director Oliver Stone and Historian Peter Kuznick, co-writers of the Showtime documentary series Untold History of the United States and companion book, are scheduled to participate.

This experience will be valuable for

  • Middle and High School US History Teachers working with Common Core requirements
  • Middle and High School US History Teachers working in non-Common Core environments
  • AP teachers
  • IB teachers
  • Any teacher interested in developing ways to teach multiple perspectives to diverse groups of students.

There is a $200 fee to attend, which covers the cost of speakers and 2 meals/day. Attendees will also receive:

  • Continuing education certificates
  • Copies of Untold History DVD, book and Young Readers’ Edition
  • Resources produced from the workshop
  • Networking opportunities with public historians, academics and curriculum specialists
  • Copies of the Untold History of the United States curriculum guide, designed to accompany each episode of the documentary series.

We have reserved a block of rooms at the Courtyard New York Marriott Upper East Side. Rooms with 1 king bed are $195/nt, 2 queen beds $215/nt.

It will be possible to share rooms in order to minimize costs.

For more information on institute content, lodging options or to register, please contact:

  • Eric Singer, MEd, PhD Principal Researcher and Educational Outreach Coordinator Untold History Education Project
  • (410) 830-9789
  • es1355a@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiat Lux! The European Enlightenment in 2015 – Teaching Beyond the Anglo-French Narrative

Happy 2015!

The European Enlightenment is a fun topic to teach.  Teachers that tap into their creative energies design classes that have students  wrestle with big ideas,  nurture their curiosity through inquiry, and evaluate how concepts from the past manifest and impact them  today.  The cast of Enlightenment characters invites the opportunity for students to engage in a “talking heads” activity, Socratic seminar, or simulate a French salon (indeed a great idea and one that could be conducted repeatedly throughout eras and with different settings).

Check out this example:

 

Another interesting aspect of the European Enlightenment is the connection to US History Survey classes. The flow of socio-political ideas was not restricted to the continent. Moreover, the Enlightenment is a great way to introduce the concept of transnational approaches to history which emphasizes the import of flow and hybridity of ideas across national borders and, in this case, across the Atlantic.

But all too often, the European Enlightenment cast of historical characters, like those in other types of historical narratives, has become static.  This is limitation is, whether  in a World or US history class, unfortunate. You can probably identify the usual suspects. As you watch the trailer below, give it a shot:

So, who did you come up with – Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire?  By this role call, the European Enlightenment, revolves on a Anglo-Franco axis. This review from NYS regents exam (below) reinforces that standard narrative as does U.S. History.org   and Hippocampus.

 

Regents

Certainly, the European Enlightenment has more influential thinkers and from other parts of the continent. Who gets left out, and marginalized is just as important as who gets emphasized in history.  Teachers should expand the number and geographic range of thinkers. This empowers students’ through a broader content knowledge base and skillset development including application, conceptual thinking, and global awareness.

Here are my suggestions for 5 additions to the standard European Enlightenment. None are from the UK! Take a look and let me know what you think and who should be included!

1)      Emer de Vattel, 1714 -1767 (Swiss)-  When Vattel’s  Law of Nations(1758)  was translated to English in 1760, it provided a foundation for national government and identity.  Ben Franklin shared copies of the text with other revolutionary brothers in the Continental Congress. Vattel’s words “A nation is…a society of men untied together for the purpose of promoting their mutual safety and advantage by their combined strength” manifest in the US Constitution a generation later. Historian David Armitage notes that Vattell’s writing argued that nations have a right to existence, independence, and equality.  Undoubtedly, this geo-political world view shaped American Independence.

Big Ideas: International Law, Republicanism, Recognizing New Nations

Did you know? George Washington borrowed The Law of Nations  on 5 October 1789 from the New York Society Library.Washington had never returned the book . The former president’s overdue fines, it has been calculated, would theoretically amount to $300,000. After learning of the situation, staff at Washington’s home in  Mount Vernon, offered to replace Vattel’s “Law of Nations” with another copy of the same edition.

 

2)      Hugo Grotius, 1583 -1648 (Dutch) – Does the concept “natural rights” sound familiar?  If not, here it is referenced in the Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Indeed, Grotius is the giant that Jefferson, Adams, and their contemporaries stood on to see further and establish the Empire of Liberty. If you really want to challenge one of the sacred ideas of the American identity, put forth the idea that the founding father of America wasn’t American.  Check this  article out.

Big Ideas: Natural Law, Just War Theory.

More Information: Thomas Jefferson’s library included Grotius 1694 The Truth of the Christian Religion. Jefferson made numerous marginal comments. Also, John Adams reference Grotius frequently in his early (pre-1776) opposition writings targeting English law noting that “sovereignty resided in the hands of the people.”

 

3)      Cesare Beccaria, 1738 -1794 (Italian) – Of my four suggestions, Beccaria has the most potential to be someone already taught or referenced by teachers.  Still, he is not solidified as a Enlightenment elite – but deserves to be. His  On Crimes and Punishment  (1764) tackles topics like torture and capital punishment.  Hmmm, sound familiar as  contemporary topics? He was also a prominent contributor to the Enlightenment journal called Il Caffe (The Coffeehouse) .

Big Ideas: Jurisprudence, Constitutional Law

Historical Scholarship: In Faces of Revolution, Historian Bernard Bailyn claims “In every colony and in every legislature there were some people who new Locke and Beccaria, Montesquieu and Voltaire.” In addition, Gordon Wood, in The Empire of Libertyrecognizes Beccaria’s influence stating that  “many of the state constitutions of 1776 evoked…Beccaria and promised to end punishments that were ‘cruel and unusual’ and to make them ‘lass sanguinary, and in general more proportionate to the crimes.”

4)      Olympe de Gouges 1748 – 1793 (French) – Yes, this selection supports the unsatisfying Anglo-French referenced above. However, she expands female representation in the European Enlightenment usually reserved for Mary Wollenscroft.   De Gouges violated boundaries that most of the revolutionary leaders wanted to preserve and was  guillotined in Paris on the 3rd November 1793.

Big Ideas: Feminism, Humanism, anti-Slavery

Legacy: Her The Declaration of the Rights of Woman (September 1791) tackles social, political, economic, and political issues around gender inequality. Her connection to the Seneca Falls Convention “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” in 1848 and then to Eleanor Roosevelt and her work with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights provide a fantastic 18th-20th century lineage on the archaeology of women’s rights vis a vis the European Enlightenment.

 

5)       Baron Samuel von Pufendorf, 1632 – 1694 (German) – In our globalized world, von Pufendorf’s sentiment about the import of being globally aware, or having a cosmopolitan ethic, is highly relevant today: “those who have the Supream Administration of Affairs, are oftentimes not sufficiently instructed concerning the Interest both of their own State, as                        also that of their Neighbours.” Pufendorf, influenced by Grotius,  asserted that international law extends to all nations, emphasizing that all nations are part of humanity.

Big Ideas: Natural Law, History, International Relations

 Top Ten!: Pufendorf is ranked as the 10th most cited thinker by the US “Founding Fathers” (Beccaria is 7th).  Among his text referenced by John Adams include,  The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature  and Of the Nature and Qualification of Religion, in Reference to Civil Society.

So it is fair to say that the social, cultural,  and political legacy of the European Enlightenment is much more expansive than the Anglo-French narrative espoused in current high school textbooks, curricula narratives and standards.   Expanding, problematizing, and offering alternative narratives is an enriching part of historical study. Providing alternatives, possibilities, and being explicit about the concept of narratives is an Enlightening exercise for your students to engage with is valuable regardless of whether yours students have an end of year exam or not.  

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.