Most often when students are polled about their experience in History or Social Studies classrooms, they give a common response: “it’s just boring, useless, memorization of facts.” As stated by James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, “High school students hate history. When they list their favorite subjects, history always comes in last. They consider it ‘the most irrelevant’ of 21 school subjects, not applicable to life today. ‘Borr-r-ring’ is the adjective they apply to it. When they can, they avoid it, even though most students get higher grades in history than in math, science, or English. Even when they are forced to take history, they repress it, so every year or two another study decries what our 17-year-olds don’t know.” (Loewen 2007)
Educators and students alike lament the repetition and tedious task of engaging information that has no apparent relevance or usefulness in today’s world. Unfortunately, what many within the education world fail to realize is that with the implementation of creativity and technology, events from the past can come alive and invigorate the learning experience like never before. According to educational psychologist and historian Sam Wineburg, “By tying our own stories to those who have come before us, the past becomes a useful resource in our everyday life, an endless storehouse of raw materials to be shaped or bent to meet our present needs.” (Wineburg 2001, 5) No longer do Social Studies have to be viewed as boring facts or useless repetition; instead, educators can use these disciplines to encourage critical thinking skills in their students, in order to prepare students to participate a competitive world, and eventually, job market.
Over the course of the summer, this blog series, “Connecting Historical Thinking and Technology in the Classroom,” will provide pre-service and local teachers the opportunity to connect the Social Studies content with relevant technological resources. Through the use of such technology, it is my greatest ambition that readers would be able help their students become analytical, historical thinkers who can competently engage the world around them. This series will be developed by connecting the current standards for high school Social Studies Education in Ohio with meaningful and applicable technological tools. Not only will readers be provided with links to databases and websites that will aid the learning process in classrooms, but educators will also be presented with ideas for incorporating tools such as SMARTboards, podcasts, and WebQuests, as well as other such technologies into their curriculum.
Posts over roughly the next 10 weeks will not only include resources for each of the six disciplines of Social Studies Education (American Government, American History, Modern World History, World Geography, Contemporary World Issues, and Economics/Financial Literacy), but will also include relevant interviews with local teachers and practical ideas for imparting values such as citizenship and global activism to students.
A little information about myself: I am Victoria McDonough, currently a 2nd year senior at Cleveland State University and Summer Research Assistant for Social Studies @ CSU. I am double majoring in History and Social Studies with a concentration in Political Science and a minor in Secondary Education, and I plan to graduate in December 2015. Upon graduation, I hope to teach Modern World History or American Government in an urban classroom setting, in addition to working with various social justice organizations to aid with the anti-trafficking movement globally. I have had the pleasure of being a student in two of Dr. Rose’s classes (Introduction to Social Studies and Geography) over the past year, and am excited to develop this blog series!
I am eager to learn and grow along with the blog community over the course of this summer and welcome comments on the blog or via Twitter. Together, we will become more knowledgeable and technologically-savvy educators who are fully prepared to impart to our students the importance of historical thinking and technology within the classroom, and even within the context of everyday life!
To find out more about historical thinking, visit Sam Wineburg’s website: http://historicalthinkingmatters.org/why/
Loewen, James W.. Lies My Teachers Told Me. New York City: Touchstone, 2007.
Wineburg, Sam. Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001.