ferent backgrounds, how to explain social problems, and whether to engage in warfare. Focusing on the 'motivations that influence such decisions helps students see history not as inevitable, but as subject to human reason, and to see the study of history as a way to apply reason to contemporary problems. Many of Amy's students, in fact, drew precisely that conclusion: They thought people studied history so they would know what not to do in the future. They consistently pointed out that history was worth studying so that they would know not to mistreat African Americans, women, Jews, or immigrants. Although some elementary students have a limited perception of contemporary racism, prejudice, and discrimination, others know from the media or their own experiences that these are indeed enduring issues in society. When asked whether she thought people's attitudes were different today than in the past, for example, one sixth-grade girl in a racially mixed urban area--whose class had been reading literature on the Holocaust--pointed to the skinheads, Klan, and "other kooks" in her neighborhood and concluded that not much had changed. "In my opinion," she said, "It could happen again."
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