Teaching History for the Quiz Show

Fantastic article in The Atlantic, “High School History Doesn’t have to be Boring” by David Cutler questioning why teachers are still (and why they ever) taught history as a class to memorize a series of events. I wish my kids had this guy for a teacher!

Great quote:

But as we go farther into the 21st century, with changes almost too numerous to fathom, I find it mindboggling that any teacher would still treat history class as boring preparation for a quiz show.

 

This is a great way to look at teaching history:

  • Teachers are foolish to expect students to remember anything for long that has little to no direct relevance in their daily lives.
  • Teachers need to do a much better job of connecting history to today, and placing a greater emphasis on how young people could learn from past mistakes.
  • Teachers should assess students on what they can do with what they know, rather than how much they know at any given time.

My daughter’s experience with AP History was horrific — they had to read pages and pages of dense text “to prepare them for college” – what bullshit – and take pages and pages of multiple choice tests with questions that were basic fact memorization. I hear they are doing a little more Document Based Questions in the 11th grade AP US History, but still tons and tons of multiple choice questions.

I’m much happier with her “regular” history class. Few tests, many more projects and less rote memorization. According to everyone, it doesn’t have the rigor. But who cares — we could argue the “rigor” aspect, and it’s not just shoving Google-able facts down their throats.

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