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In Defense of Teaching State and Local History, Redux

Newell Convers Wyeth: Last of the Mohicans

Elementary History Teacher has an excellent reply to Florida School Boss’s piece on teaching state/local history.

In “Teaching State History: Point/Counterpoint,” EHT expresses her surprise with FSB’s stance on the lack of value of teaching state history, then lays out a solid argument for its curricular importance – it’s worth a full read.

There’s a potential stumbling point that the Boss might have in Florida that EHT doesn’t have to deal with in Georgia, EHT says – and that’s the vagueness of Florida’s state standards. EHT points out:

Here are the standards for eighth grade Social Studies standards [Adobe PDF, opens in new window] in Georgia as well as eighth grade Florida standards [Adobe PDF, opens in new window]. Notice that both courses follow an outline of American History. The standards that deal with Florida specifically are somewhat broad while Georgia’s standards are more specific noting people, places, battles etc. that the instructor should make mention of regarding state history.

So I believe it all comes down to the words “relative details” that FSB and I might disagree on.

Take a quick peek at those two examples – I have no doubt that FSB’s mind would be more at ease if Florida’s standards were less conceptual and more specific. Such loose standards likely produce great variance in how state education is treated in Florida. If there were fewer examples of underdoing/overdoing it, we’d all be a lot happier. EHT goes on:

Social Studies has moved beyond name the explorer who, what year, and locate on a map type of assessments. We want students to be able to think critically about what they are learning and to connect their learning to details they have learned in the past whether they are life long residents of a particular state or not.

Indeed – and this is an especially important thing to remember as schools respond to NCLB requirements inappropriately and, as a result, cut time for history.

By the day the movement that pushes for global citizenry in public education grows stronger. It has to occur to school leaders that before one can be a global citizen, he needs to be a citizen of his Rabun Gaps, Cooperstown or Jacksonville – and an American citizen. Those global citizens need real answers to questions like, “So where are you from? and “What’s it like there?”

When those questions commonly elicit blank looks, nervous blushing or one-word answers, it’ll be too late.

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3 Responses to “In Defense of Teaching State and Local History, Redux”

  1. John Konop says:

    Sonny & Casey Please Help!

    We need a new direction in high school education, away from the heavy handed, one-size-fits-all No Child Left Behind system that has failed students and strained tax payers.

    We need Governor Perdue and Lieutenant Governor Cagle to step up and lead, instead of rubber-stamping failed gimmick programs like Kathy Cox’s Math 123—we need real solutions.

    More Choice, Not Less

    Why not coordinate the current university, junior college system, certificate programs, and technical colleges with our high schools? Georgia’s only nationally-ranked high school academic program—the math program used in Cherokee, Cobb, and Fulton counties—currently coordinates its advanced math program with local colleges. Why not expand the concept to all high schools, instead of eliminating it, as Kathy Cox has proposed?

    How to Expand

    Beginning in the 11th grade, public high schools could coordinate curriculums with local universities, junior colleges, certificate programs, and technical colleges to give kids a chance to pursue job training or advanced academics. This would not only save tax-payer money, it would match students with their best opportunities to become productive tax payers after high school. Also, graduates that earn vocational certificates could still expand their education down the road. For example, a nurse’s aide could train to become a nurse.

    University-track students would be eligible to have their junior and senior year course work coordinated with a university system, either on campus or via the internet. This would both challenge Georgia students and give them a leg-up when competing with students from other states. This idea has already been proven effective in Cherokee county’s advanced math program—which is nationally ranked.

    Sonny and Casey

    Please take the lead by giving Georgia counties the option to transform their public school districts into charter school districts and by helping facilitate the flow of funds between high schools and the higher education systems so we can implement this solution. We need you to take a leadership role in reforming our education system so it better invests in our children’s future while saving tax-payer’s money.

    Please contact Sonny, Casey, your local principal, and local school board to demand that they give your children the academic and vocational choices they deserve.

    Sonny Perdue can be reached at 404-656-1776 or click here

    Casey Cagle can be reached at (404) 656-5030 or click here

  2. Miss Profe says:

    Having taught at a school in Georgia for three years where the sixth grade curriculum included Georgia State History, I, too, support this teaching. It is important for students to know about where they come from, and to understand their state’s role in American history and its contributions to to the country. The curriculum included a 2.5 day field trip where the students explored their hometown – Augusta. From there, the students travelled to Savannah. An enriching educational experience.

    BTW: I know more about Georgia history than I do about my own state.

  3. TONY SCHILLING says:

    In 1944-45 I was in the 6th grade in Marietta, Georgia and studied Georgia hstory the entire year from a textbook which had just been published. I really enjoyed it and can still see many of the pictures and pages in my mind. I would like to know the name and author of the text book. It would be great to have one for my grand children. I am strongly in facor in teaching Georgia history in grammar or middle school. Thanks for any help.

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