- "Understand that the United States of America did not begin with the Declaration of Independence."
- "Learn history through other means than books and teachers. I would like them to learn history through music, through plays, by doing drawings, through architecture."
- "Take on the lab technique. A teacher, Jim Percoco, does this by having students study statues. Give students a photograph or show them a building, or street corner, or neighborhood, and make a mini little documentary or write a play about it or write a paper about it. Don't give students everything. Let them figure it out."
- "Finally, let them have the chance to work with original documents or the nearest facsimile possible. Let them see that these were written by real people, with a paper and pen."
- "Take them to places where things happen. Take them to historic sites."
As I continue to polish my opening act for the launch of school in about 30 hours, I thought I'd bring in a lesson from an iconic 80's teacher, played by Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I'm sure every educator working today, especially those of us teaching social studies, fails to see any resemblance to ourselves. Would our students agree?
Sadly, in too many classrooms, a theoretical knowledge from the textbook is the dominant focus, in preparation for the high-stakes exams. Is this teacher's philosophy really that far off?
A teacher named Joanna Hayes would disagree with the narrow agenda being pushed in many of our schools. She made this video to orient her students to the purpose of studying history.
Here, Dr. Chris Evans, who teaches at the University of Glamorgan, argues the case for studying history in college.
Finally, noted historian David McCullough offers five lessons every high school student should learn. "First, don't memorize dates and don't memorize quotations. You can look them up. What matters is what happens and why."
So, when your students ask this week, "why study history?" what will you tell them?