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 Georgiaâ€™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 â€œrelative detailsâ€ 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.