What Do We Gain or Lose in History Class?
Yesterday I was talking to a parent of one of my students. This parent told me about a History assignment her son’s sixth grade class had just finished. Students were to research a person who had a significant impact on American History and then present a report about that person and their role in history. Each student was to dress up like the historical figure they had chosen and give an oral presentation as part of the report. I thought that sounded like a fantastic way for the kids to learn about important people in history, learn how to conduct research, and gain public speaking experience. Three birds with one stone – what a great idea. Then I heard about the so called historical figures the students chose.
Who Qualifies As Historical?
A few students picked people like Neil Armstrong, and Clara Barton. These are indisputably important people in our nation’s history. However most of the class decided to research sports figures and pop-culture moguls. Most of the “historical” figures chosen weren’t even out of their 30’s yet. I was disgusted. Not only did these kids completely miss the point of the lesson – but the teacher allowed Britney Spears and Dennis Rodman to be dubbed “important historical contributors.” Since when are pop-culture and History the same thing?
No wonder there are so many debates raging about curriculum in our public schools. No wonder so many parents are turning to private schools, charter schools, and home school options. No wonder we have children today who do not know that George Washington was the 1st president, or what the Great Depression was, or even the names of our current president and vice-president.
I’ve worked with both the public and private school systems for over 15 years. As timelines go that isn’t a long time, but in that time I’ve watched our History curriculum degenerate tenfold. For quite awhile I’ve wondered what could be done about this problem. Then I found the solution. I recently learned that most school districts accept proposals for changes in curriculum, and many of these proposals are accepted. All it takes is a few parents getting together to write the proposal. The only problem – most parents do not know how to write a History Curriculum Outline. The solution – most online colleges and universities offer individual writing courses that specialize in proposals.
When you sign up for these classes this is what you will learn so many things to create a viable, vibrant outline for learning and not a biased rehash of what you think you know.
A Course in Proposal Writing Will Teach:
• How to research different textbooks.
• How to document your findings.
• How to make official recommendations
• How to explain in detail your rationale for change.
• Determine how the changes will affect academic performance
• How to submit your research findings.
• How to use and cite statistics.
• How to find documented statements from educators.
• How to present the advantages of the proposed change.
• How to perform an assessment of the new curriculum.
• How to determine which assessment tools will be needed.
• Decide how to collect needed data.
• Decide how to forecast results that should be obtained from the new curriculum.
• Provide an assessment of monetary costs with funding the new curriculum.
• How to establish a timeline for implementation.
• How to report final results and ensure that your data is accurate.
• Provide a plan to continue the new program or how to address problems with the program.
Anyone who has a child in the public school system should take a serious look at the history curriculum being used and decide if changes are needed. I know in my district change is needed and I have already started the process to make change happen. I want my children to know the real history of our nation, not some trumped up pop-culture version of history.