HIS 350L • HIST OF TEACHING AMER HIST
Historians are experts. They uncover and collect facts, and with them construct the explanations and narratives about the past. They also seek to understand our relationship to that past, and to impart that knowledge to others. Yet, in a society that quite correctly expects education to serve useful purposes, the functions of historical study and the teacher of history can seem difficult to explain. The "products" of true historical study seems less tangible and immediate than those that stem from some other disciplines. Easy access to the facts and to simple narratives on Wikipedia and Google have further complicated the problem. If history is, as many see it, a collection of facts arranged in chronological order, we can all be e-historians. This is a patently false notion of course, but it does reflect a way in which present conditions shape the way we look at the past. Each age has conceived of the importance of knowing history in different ways and takes different lessons and meanings from its study. This seminar will examine and evaluate the role of the historian and teacher of history today and changing ideas of how American history has been taught. A portion of class time will be spent in a seminar setting and a significant part will be spent as observer-participants in an American history survey course.
Participation and attendance, 20%; Journal 40%; Two papers, 40%.
Participants will read selections from a wide variety of authors that reveal changing cultural perspectives on what an informed citizen should know about the nation's history. These include writers such as Barzun, Teacher in America: Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, Calder, "Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey;" Trinkle and Merriman, eds., History.Edu: Essays on Teaching with Technology; Finkel, Teaching with Your Mouth Shut: Ravitch, The Great School Wars; Cremin, The Genius of American Education, Ward, History in the Making; and Wayland, How to Teach American History.