Teaching Secondary School Social Studies

By James F. High | Go to book overview

9
Teaching United States history

These are the researches of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, which he publishes, in the hope of thereby preserving from decay the remembrances of what men have done. . . .

History HERODOTUS, Athens, 449 B.C.


1. Introduction to Teaching History or the Story of the Past

Man's cultural heritage pervades our lives almost from birth. Its formal organization and presentation in school courses becomes the core of the social studies curriculum. Approximately three-fourths of high school social studies teaching time is devoted to history: United States history, hemispheric study and world history. Every state has some sort of legal requirement for the study of American history and government at some point in the student's school career.

History is the story of what men and women have done, of what they have left for others to enjoy and suffer. People have made fantastic blunders and noble contributions, but regardless of the quality of human activity it has given us a legacy of civilization, not always fine and noble but on the whole there has been progress both material and moral. Man's outlook is basically hopeful and there has been some justification for this. As students look at history, if they are guided in the true spirit of criticism and imbued with the necessity to look for the truth, they cannot help being inspired by the heroic proportions of their ancestors' struggle for existence and a better life. Such is the study of history as it was introduced to the ancient Greek world by Herodotus.

After about a million years of human struggle out of the fog and ignorance of primeval antiquity during which time man's history was

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