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How To: Make Sure Your Students Hate History

It’s really not that hard. Just a little effort on your part and your students will be hating history with the best of them. Because, after all, that’s our job.

1. Memorize, memorize, memorize. If you try and have kids actually apply knowledge, you’ll be sure to fall behind in your scope and sequence. Having kids memorize and regurgitate is much faster.

One of the advantages of teaching history is that you don’t have to create things. You just have to remember stuff that happened and then parrot it back.

Sheldon Cooper
The Big Bang Theory

2. Never use more than one source of information. Multiple perspectives just confuse kids. Stick to one thing so there’s less ambiguity. What you don’t want is a classroom full of kids asking questions that you can’t answer. My suggestion? Textbook only.

3. When you talk about history, be sure to use your best monotone voice. Passion is a wasted emotion in a history class.  If you’re not sure quite how to approach this, that econ guy from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a great place to find a little inspiration.

4. If you actually decide to play a video or movie in your class, be sure to show the entire movie spread out over four class periods.  Showing short clips that highlight  key ideas won’t provide “the big picture.” Don’t provide any sort of guiding questions either. Just give them a worksheet to fill out while they’re watching that asks things like how many tanks were destroyed in Saving Private Ryan. That way you know they were paying attention. (And don’t forget to have your student aide grade that!)  And never spend time on any sort of reflection – keep that scope and sequence in mind.

5. Don’t have students write. Ever. Classroom discussion is good enough to find out what kids are thinking. See Econ Teacher in #3 above. Besides, the more you have kids write, the more you’ll get kids (and parents) bugging you to actually grade it.

6. Make sure that your students always work alone. Having kids talk with other kids makes no sense at all. And group work? You don’t have time for that.

7. Provide the answers, not great essential questions. There should be no realistic problems to solve in your class. Like Sheldon said:

You just have to remember stuff that happened and parrot it back.

8. Two words. Multiple choice. It’s really three words. Multiple, choice, scantron. This sort of assessment has been proven (I’m pretty sure it’s been proven. I read it somewhere.) to be the most effective and reliable so don’t use any sort of authentic assessments. Authentic assessments = you guessed it . . . rubrics and grading.

9. Don’t read any history books yourself. You have all the history content you’ll ever need right there in the textbook. And forget trying to connect and discuss things with other history teachers. Some sort of argument always breaks out about an historical interpretation like the main cause of the Civil War. Who needs the headache?

10. Ignore any sort of technology integration. There’s not any need for historical simulations, online primary source documents, social media, web-based learning or mobile devices. School is for teaching, not for playing.

Ten easy steps.

But I’m sure more ideas are out there. What are your suggestions for getting kids to hate history?

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10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Power Point with fill-in-the-blank notes. And I’m talking at the high school level! Make sure you do that ALL the time. And if you can get your principal to observe that lesson, you’ll get credited for 21st century instruction. #sodonewithpowerpointlectures

    BTW, my URL changed, it’s now:

    November 21, 2011
  2. How can I share that video? Would love to have my teachers watch it. Heck, I’ll just send your link.

    November 21, 2011
    • glennw #

      Full trailer version at:

      I edited it down to the best part!


      November 21, 2011
  3. Mike Hasley #

    Thanks! My presentation in DC as at 2:10 on Friday the 2nd. When will you be around so we can possible meet face-to-face?

    November 22, 2011
    • glennw #

      I’m in DC just for Thursday NSSSA conference and having to fly back out to Colorado for another conference early Friday am.


      November 22, 2011
  4. A. Lanik #

    You need to add to the multiple choice one that high-stakes testing uses it, so it must be right!

    November 24, 2011
  5. Great post! You have successfully listed the top ten reasons why I HATED history. Fortunately, I had a good experience in college and am now working on an M.A. in US History. Funny what a decent teacher can do for a guy.

    December 7, 2011
    • glennw #

      Teachers do make all the difference! My own M.A. is in US History. Glad you survived!


      December 7, 2011

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