Every history and social studies major at Cleveland State University takes HIS 299: Intro to Historical Studies, a gateway course which focuses on the process of historical thinking and the transferable skills (research methods and writing) that history/social studies majors take with them into the workforce.
On November 3, 2017, HIS 299 students were treated to a workshop by Dr. Daisy Martin of the Stanford History Education Group sponsored by the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County (ESC) and Ohio Humanities. Martin led CSU history and social studies majors through an historical thinking exercise using the lens of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In particular, Martin asked students to think of especially memorable history lessons, and engaged with whether they were positive or negative experiences. She then used these examples to address the need to “open up the textbook” for students to truly experience historical thinking.
Martin’s six methods for “opening up the textbook:”
- Comparison – compare 2 or more textbooks
- Direct Challenge – use primary sources to challenge textbook
- Narrativization – where does the textbook begin the story?
- Articulating Silences – Who is left out?
- Vivification – breath life into the text
- Close Reading – focus on word choice
By the end of the workshop, HIS 299 students were ready to apply these methods to the narratives they encountered in their own learning and research projects. Indeed, for those on track to become social studies educators, this workshop pointed them to valuable resources on historical thinking as well as new ways to engage students in the study of history that goes beyond memorizing dates and names.
Special thanks to Nadine Grimm of the ESC and Dr. Robert Shelton of the CSU Department of History for facilitating Daisy Martin’s visit to Cleveland State!