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
I missed it.
The 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg? I missed it. I suppose it would have been too crowded anyway. But I do have the latest Gettysburg book by Allen Guelzo and am working my way through the Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, Martin Sheen movie version of the battle.
And now thanks to Patrick’s suggestion, I’ve got some absolutely awesome maps. Two of my favorite things – Civil War battles and maps.
Some quick context. There has been a lot of discussion over the years concerning the different decisions made by leaders on both sides during the battle. Particularly the decisions made by Confederate general Lee on both the second and third day. Did Lee’s orders to attack the Union left flank on the second day and the frontal attack on the Union center on the third day make sense?
We know how the battle turns out. Confederate defeat. And often, because Lee is seen by many Confederate supporters to be infallible, Lee’s subordinates – especially Longstreet – get most of the blame for that. But the question remains. Why did Lee order attacks that with hindsight seem so wrong?
The Smithsonian might have the answer. Read more
it’s the first morning of the Presidential Timeline’s Ford Institute and I am pumped! There are 20 of us here in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library. Our task for the next four days? Working to share ideas and strategies to improve the teaching of social studies.
A few goals during the institute:
- gaining historical content knowledge
- strengthening our pedagogical skills
- getting better at the use of technology
And we started with a couple of basic overarching questions:
- How is knowledge constructed in social studies?
- What strategies work?
So . . . as I’m working to create curriculum and learning more about how to use it, I’ll also try and share what us history geeks come up with.
Head over to the institute’s resource page. We’ll be adding to this as we go along. So be sure to refresh the page often. Let the fun begin!
We started with a simple knowledge activation exercise using Prezi. Ryan Crowley, part of the Presidential Timeline team, created a shared Prezi and asked us to add content to it. His guiding questions? Read more
It’s the middle of June.
I’m guessing most of you are not missing your classroom yet. But if you’re like most teachers, eventually you’ll need a history fix. You’ll need to start planning for next fall. You’ll need to pick up a book or a journal to learn something new.
And when you do, come back here because here’s the link you need: Read more