Is History Becoming History? Humanities to the Rescue?
As you have seen in my previous writing, I’m viewing the evolving world of education through the eyes of my 12-year-old son, Andrew, and his passion for history. Even Andrew has noticed that few of his peers have an interest in history. It’s less about the subject matter and more about “hating” to read a text book – in fact, when he shares his Civil War uniforms and weapons and tells stories they actually get excited. As Nora O’Leary-Roseberry pointed out in her post on Project-Based Learning for history, one of the strangest anomalies in education is that students profess to hate studying history, but they love “doing” history.
That anomaly has frustrated teachers and historians alike. One of the young historians that has helped my son enjoy and learn about history, shares that frustration: Jared Frederick is a seasonal Ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park and writer of the blog History Matters. On his blog he had a great post today about an initiative that is bringing history and humanities together to engage students and keep history alive in a corridor from Gettysburg to Monticello. I highly recommend the entire piece (and his blog as a whole), but this portion is what piqued my interest – and not just the cool name of the initiative:
One such initiative is an education film series entitled Of the Student, By the Student, For the Student. Pupils attending school within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground’s corridor collaborate with the National Park Service and professional filmmakers to produce mini-movies or vodcasts.
As a parent, and as someone who works at Compass Learning, I really liked how he tied technology, education, and students together:
By embracing the technological and cultural diversities now available in the humanities field, we can inform better and delve deeper into the complexities, controversies, and celebrations of the shared past. Linking history with present is simple when one is willing to be open-minded and utilize the vast array of resources available to students and historians. Stanton urged his largely student audience to accept that challenge by making the national story accessible and relevant.
(Stanton is Robert G. Stanton, the former head of the National Park Service and current adviser to the Secretary of the Interior.)
In my short time here at Compass Learning, I wish I had a nickel for every time I have heard the phrase “make it accessible and relevant.” We know that is the key to educational success, but why is progress so … slow? I’m beginning to believe the answer isn’t going to come from the “adults” making the decisions but from that student group Stanton was addressing.
It won’t be history or humanities to the rescue, but our students who rescue education.
Educators: How do you make learning accessible and relevant to your students? Have you asked your students what THEY want in a classroom or learning environment? If you believe it’s time we start listening to the students, tell us your opinion in the comment section below.
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