Blogging On History, Science, and Education
May 19, 2016
"When students and school boards ask, 'Why history? What are we supposed to be getting out of this?' The best answer is still that one word: judgment. We demand it of all professionals: doctors, lawyers, chefs, and quarterbacks. And we need it most in the profession of citizen, which, like it or not, exercise it for not, we are all born into."
That quote is from Paul Gagnon, a history professor at UMass (who died in 2005). His words are increasingly relevant, especially in this country, as we become increasingly diverse. Paul and I talked of writing a world history together. I was to do the ancient world, he would begin with the Renaissance. Wish it could have happened. Paul's memory is honored in a history prize given by the NCHE. As for my take on why history? It makes you think and gives you something to think about.
December 16, 2010
A dedicated 5th grade teacher wrote to me recently about the way she teaches:
In social studies we focus on essential questions such as, “What makes a good leader?” Or, “What has stayed the same throughout history, and what has changed?” We never study the Civil War as a topic, but we do study civil war and use many examples, including our own, to understand the concept. . .otherwise they would simply walk away with dates, names, and answers to dreadful end-of-chapter questions. (more…)
October 26, 2010
The Washington Post reported on October 20th that a Virginia social studies textbook, purchased widely in that state, is not only something less than scholarly, it seems to have been written to push an agenda. According to an article by Kevin Sieff, “A textbook distributed to Virginia fourth-graders says that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War — a claim rejected by most historians but often made by groups seeking to play down slavery’s role as a cause of the conflict.” (more…)
May 6, 2010
University of Washington microbiologist and brain theorist John J. Medina spoke to a group of educators in Denver recently.
He described the way the brain stores information, which got me thinking about the way schools work. According to Medina, most information that we learn needs to be revisited within a two-hour window, or it is lost. If the goal is to take knowledge from our fluid memory banks and put it into long-term memory storage, that isn’t likely to happen unless the information gets repeated-usually more than once. (more…)
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