I like Malcolm Gladwell’s stuff. I especially liked his book, Outliers: The Story of Success. In Outliers, Gladwell addresses the question of what makes high-achievers successful. And he cites some of the research by Anders Ericsson demonstrating that to become an expert at something, a person needs to devote 10,000 hours practicing and working on that one thing.
Gladwell made the idea seem plausible. Even doable. And it sounds like a great idea. Work hard at something long enough and you get good at it. Even great at it.
But a recent book by Daniel Goleman debunks the 10,000 hour “mythology” and suggests a more complex truth behind Gladwell’s simplistic take on the theory. In Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, Goldman says the 10,000 hour idea is only half true. Read more
I’ve been saying this for years.
Don Gifford, Kansas Department of Education social studies consultant, has been saying it.
Diane Debacker, Education Commissioner for the state of Kansas, is saying it.
What are teachers supposed to do? Just teach. Breathe. Don’t worry about the test.
What we’re trying to do is change the conversation . . . But we have lived for the past 12 or 13 years with it being all about assessment results, so it’s going to take us a little bit of time.
In an article published in this morning’s Wichita Eagle, DeBacker shared her feelings and suggestions about the new type of test being rolled out this spring. Designed to reflect new Common Core state standards, the new assessments will feature more complex questions and “technology-enhanced” items that require students to enter numerical answers, drag and drop items into correct categories, or highlight portions of text that support a central idea.
The tests will be shorter this year but questions are richer and more complex, designed to better measure students’ critical thinking skills. Read more
As we move into a social studies world that is asking kids to collect evidence, organize evidence, create products, and communicate results, writing skills are becoming more and more important.
But for the last ten years or so, at least in the state of Kansas, we’ve asked kids to focus instead on memorizing content. So now when we’re asking our middle school and high school students to not just write more but to use evidence while proving assertions, we get a lot of blank stares.
My suggestion? Read more
While it is possible, I suppose, to teach social studies and history without primary sources, it’s probably not a good idea. And while there are more and more places to find primary sources, it can still be difficult to track down stuff that you can use.
It’s can be especially difficult finding newspapers.
Enter Google News.
Google News is already an awesome tool for finding resources for current events around the world. But if you know where to look, Google News is also great for finding old newspapers for use in your instruction.
Steps? Read more
I don’t think my daughter would mind me telling you that she loves Marvel Comics. I also don’t think she is the only kid out there that loves Marvel Comics. Or DC Comics. Or the X-Men. O superheroes in general.
A lot of your kids are huge into comic books and graphic novels. I’ve said it many times, most recently regarding the Hunger Games series:
Some suggest that we shouldn’t have to use pop culture to teach social studies. I disagree. I will use pretty much whatever it takes to engage kids in content. And if the relationship between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale hooks students into a better understanding of civic and geographic concepts, we ought to be all over it.
The same thing can be said about the whole Marvel Comic world. It just seems like a great way to integrate reading and writing skills into your instruction. But I haven’t played in that world enough to put ideas and lessons and materials together so they can be used in the classroom.
The good news? Read more
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to spend five days with Fritz Fischer at a Gilder Lehrman Summer Seminar. It was awesome. Fritz has been involved in history / social studies issues at the national level for years. He helped write the Colorado state social studies standards and now he’s come out with a great book titled The Memory Hole: The US History Curriculum Under Siege. It’s basically Fritz saving the world. Trust me on this.
The basic premise?
I am afraid that the discipline of social studies is being hijacked.
He calls them anti-historians. Working to insert their own sanitized versions of past events, they misunderstand the purpose of history, and are afraid of the process of history. He suggests that we are moving towards a 1984 Orwellian reality that “reinscribes” events “exactly as often is necessary.” That lives by the phrase “who controls the past controls the future.”
He suggests that
the past is disappearing because many people don’t care about the past but do care about creating a past that supports their view of the present.
The way to prevent this sort of Orwellian possibility is to Read more