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Teaching history

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Rowan
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Post by Rowan » Mon September 15th, 2008, 5:26 pm

[quote=""donroc""]Great schools exist in the USA and hire the best instructors. You have to look carefully for them.[/quote]

I don't doubt that one bit, but they should be the rule, not the exception. You shouldn't have to "look carefully for them" as a parent.

I think the most interesting class I took in college - and when I say interesting, I mean as far as teachers go - was the history class on the Holocaust. It's not an interesting subject by any means, but half of the semester was taught by a rabbi. It was interesting to hear a Jew's perspective.

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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Mon September 15th, 2008, 5:42 pm

In my primary school we were taught all about the kings and queens, which I found fascinating as a child. When I moved on to senior school, the history lessons were more about politics, prime ministers, the industrial revolution, the 'peelers' or 'bobbies' (Robert Peel's police force) which I didn't find so interesting! I can remember having to copy loads of notes from the blackboard which the teacher painstakingly wrote!! It used to take up most of the lesson! LOL.

A lot of history is about dates and I always found it quite a nightmare to remember them all. I can only remember 1066 as an exact date now!!!! I should know the date of the Battle of Towton (Richard III era), as I live so very near there (there is a monument where poppies and flowers are still laid) - apparently the fields were just a sea of blood all the way from Towton to York (about 10 miles). Bones of soldiers were found recently buried in gardens. It sends a shiver up my spine!

Interestingly, we weren't taught very much about WWI/II at my school, but my husband was taught quite a bit about it at his.

We were given a choice of History or Geography in a certain year and I chose History without hesitation - I just didn't, and still don't, like Geography!!! All those plateaus and rocks...boring!
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Perdita
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Post by Perdita » Mon September 15th, 2008, 6:31 pm

The first thing I remember being taught in History classes was 1066. We had to sing a little song about it and act it out - the boys got to play the Normans of course!
We learnt a lot of Tudor history (in other words, Henry VIII and his 6 wives) and also loads about the Victorians. I vaguely remember school projects about Charles II and the Gunpowder Plot. Later on like Vanessa said, it was all WWII, the Corn Laws, Industrial Revolution etc.
We didn't study the history of any other countries, which is weird.

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Post by Ariadne » Mon September 15th, 2008, 6:47 pm

We started over again each year, too, and because there was so much to cover, we never got past the middle of World War II. I enjoyed my literature classes much more than my history ones, and for one of my research papers in 11th grade English, I read Anya Seton's Katherine. It's only thanks to historical fiction that I'm interested in history at all now.

My favorite history (or rather Social Studies) class was in 7th grade, when I was about 12. We learned all about the history of Connecticut, from pre-colonial times through the present, and took field trips to local museums, like Noah Webster's house - which was a few miles away. The class was much more focused in scope, and concentrated primarily on social history, but the teacher also covered a lot of the local movers and shakers of the time.

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Post by Ash » Mon September 15th, 2008, 7:34 pm

>The first response that came to my fingertips to type was that teachers don't want to make school interesting. In any subject, let alone history, but then I realise it's not just them. They have to teach within certain guidelines and making things interesting is not the top priority of any school board or other governing body of schools around the country.

I am sooo glad you clarified that! Most teachers want to teach, to inspire, to challenge kids. Again because of our governments 'test 24/7' there is little time for anything else. Heck in some places they have done away with recess. So its very very frustrating for us, and probably a big reason why we lose so many new teachers in five years

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Post by Leyland » Mon September 15th, 2008, 7:39 pm

I attended a very small school until the end of the eighth grade and went on some field trips to a Civil War battlefield and some old rice and indigo plantations where tools were preserved and original structures still stand. The dates and other rote memory items take on life away from a chalkboard.

Field trips are good ways to help students envision history. My niece went to Washington DC with her seventh grade class last May, but they were on a bus tour plan and only had five minutes scheduled at Arlington Cemetery. I didn't believe her until I looked at the schedule. Five whole minutes. :confused:

I think the whole trip was a drive-by blink-and-you-miss-it kinda thing. But hopefully some of them will be interested someday!

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Post by boswellbaxter » Mon September 15th, 2008, 7:48 pm

Add me to the list of those whose teachers started over again on American history each year. Most years we never quite finished the Civil War. I don't blame the teachers--probably if they had tried to teach any other way, someone would have tried to get them fired.

It's sad, because I know in my own case that I could have got very interested in the history that I was taught had it been presented in such a way as to catch my imagination. When I was a teenager, I read a novel that dealt with the Holocaust, and I became fascinated with the subject--at age sixteen I probably had more books on the subject than most of the public libraries in my area did. But this wasn't a subject that was covered at all in any of the schools I attended--at best it merited a sentence in my World History textbook.
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Rowan
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Post by Rowan » Mon September 15th, 2008, 8:38 pm

[quote=""Ash""]I am sooo glad you clarified that! Most teachers want to teach, to inspire, to challenge kids. Again because of our governments 'test 24/7' there is little time for anything else. Heck in some places they have done away with recess. So its very very frustrating for us, and probably a big reason why we lose so many new teachers in five years[/quote]

I know how easy it is just to blame teachers and be done with it, but that's not right. ;)

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Susan
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Post by Susan » Mon September 15th, 2008, 9:31 pm

[quote=""boswellbaxter""]The classes tended to focus on dates and events, with very little emphasis on the personalities of the people involved. It was a thoroughly boring experience.[/quote]

As a teacher, I can say that history now tends to be concept and theme oriented and not focused on dates and events.
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JaneConsumer
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Post by JaneConsumer » Mon September 15th, 2008, 9:32 pm

My grade school experience was very similar to yours. It's not only sad, it's an injustice. I didn't experience history until I attended college. And then I didn't know what hit me.

But it was wonderful!

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