Magazine article District Administration

Joining Hands to Keep History Alive

Magazine article District Administration

Joining Hands to Keep History Alive

Article excerpt

It has long been known that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, which has certainly fueled many a classroom discussion about his phrase "all men are created equal." Until recently, it wasn't widely known that Jefferson had children with one of his slaves. While it's likely a topic discussed in far fewer classrooms, educators aware of that discovery have a deeper understanding of Jefferson. In many cases, recent historical research is essentially lost if teachers don't come across it on their own.

Thanks to a movement 10 years in the making, educators are working to abolish the re-teaching of myths and stereotypes in history classrooms. Partnerships are becoming more common between historians and districts to provide social studies teachers with opportunities to incorporate current research into their curriculum.

Making Connections, which partners City University of New York faculty and secondary school humanities teachers, is one such program. Mentors from CUNY's Center for Media and Learning American Social History Project Graduate Center work closely with teachers to help them integrate social history scholarship and methodologies into their lessons. Teachers attend year-long monthly seminars and leave with a set of print and multimedia resources. In one recent project, they did a close "reading" of a piece of artwork and juxtaposed it with primary sources that reflected multiple perspectives from the Westward Expansion period.

"There's often a disconnect between what happens with new scholarship that's developed in academic settings and the reality of what's happening in schools," says Eliza Fabillar, co-director of education at the center. …

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