James Harvey Robinson, Teacher of History

James Harvey Robinson, Teacher of History

James Harvey Robinson, Teacher of History

James Harvey Robinson, Teacher of History

Excerpt

Since 1890 there has been a great change in history taught in American colleges and schools. Historical instruction during the last decade of the nineteenth century was characterized by a great emphasis on the political, military, and constitutional aspects of the past, while little attention was given to man's achievements in other fields of human endeavor. Although in some college and university classes the lecture served as the basis for historical instruction, both colleges and schools relied mainly on the history textbook. The texts concerned themselves almost exclusively with political, military, and dynastic affairs, were crowded with names and dates, emphasized extraordinary and picturesque events and crises in human affairs, and for the schools at least, often lacked scholarship. Moreover, the reliance of the history teacher upon the material appearing in the text and the practice of using this as a basis for class recitation and questioning gave little opportunity for the student to become acquainted with historical sources or to familiarize himself with the historical method, though some volumes of sources selected for class use became available in the latter years of the century.

During the past fifty years the study of history has been broadened to include the social, economic, cultural, and intellectual activities and achievements of man. Increased attention to these aspects of man's past has been accompanied by reduction in the proportion, and in some cases the amount, of political, military, diplomatic, and constitutional history offered in schools and colleges. At the same time there has been a tendency to rely less upon a single text and to provide students with the opportunity for wider reading and for examining, criticizing, organizing, and interpreting historical sources. Equally significant has been the demand in recent years that history in cooperation with the allied social sciences attempt to explain the present and provide background for understanding contemporary problems. This shift in the aims and emphases of historical instruction has been accompanied by a change in the courses offered at both the collegiate and secondary levels.

In high schools English and medieval history as separate courses have . . .

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