by Katie Gieselman-
A large part of preserving history happens in a classroom when we are young. In elementary school, children are trusting of their authority figures, so it makes perfect sense that they absorb and believe everything they are taught in history classes. I was completely guilty of this as a child, in fact most of us probably were. It wasn’t until I got into college that I truly began to question all sides of the story when it came to history. I remember leaving a few college classes thinking “why in the world wasn’t I taught this in school?” For example, in elementary school we are taught how great of a hero Abraham Lincoln was. He freed the slaves, won the civil war, and practically saved the world like super man… I’m surprised he didn’t have a cape in textbook pictures of him! Upon leaving a college course I was given an entirely new picture. I learned so many things about this historical figure that he quickly dropped on my favorites list. I honestly felt kind of cheated.
Recently I have overheard a few students asking “Why weren’t we taught this in school?” and it really got me thinking. Are we doing our students a favor by sheltering them from the truth? I would argue no. I think at a young age you can’t dive into too much detail when it comes to history, but in middle school I do believe that students should be given all sides of the story and allowed to make the decision of what they believe is true for themselves. I really don’t think we are doing our students a favor by not allowing them to form their own ideas. It is certainly not preserving history if all sides aren’t being told and its not allowing students to become deeper thinkers. I also think that showing them all sides would allow them to pick out biases in history, which I feel is an important skill for later on in life. Let me know what you think… Are we doing our students a favor?
by Katie Gieselman-
In the past few decades, America’s schools have seen a drastic shift in the subjects that are considered important. Art, music, and physical education have been cut from most schools. Now with the school’s success depending on standardized state tests such as the ISAT, I’m concerned that history itself, along with science, will fall to the wayside. The main focus on these standardized tests are math and language arts, so naturally teachers are focusing on these main subjects. The scary reality is that some students are only being taught history as little as twice a week, sometimes only once.
With a decrease in the emphasis on history, it’s a growing concern of mine that children–who are our future–will lack an appreciation for history and all it offers. What does this have to do with preserving history? If the future generations don’t have an appreciation for history, how can we ensure that historical buildings and history as a field will be protected? This is why the preservation of history is so important. Teachers need to work hard to show how fun history can be and changes need to be made statewide so that an emphasis on history is returned to the classroom. More field trips need to be taken and history needs to be viewed as a fun subject that can be hands on. Without this movement I truly fear the future and the evolution of history.
by Katie Gieselman-
Upon entering my final year in the elementary education program, I recently received news of where I would be student teaching for an entire year. I was pleased to hear that I would be placed in a 5th grade history and language arts classroom. This school is considered urban and they don’t have the resources that most schools have. I instantly knew that I wanted to give these students an opportunity to experience history in a fun way. I began thinking about field trip ideas to historical locations/museums that wouldn’t cost the school a ton of money. Living so close to St. Louis it would be silly not to take advantage of the resources available. Listed below are the top 3 places I found in St. Louis to keep the world of history alive and exciting in a 5th graders mind. (Note: All of these places could easily be adapted for older and younger students.)
1) Holocaust Museum and Learning Center in St. Louis
This beautiful museum tells the story of many Jews in the St. Louis area who experienced the Holocaust. This museum is completely free and, upon request, a Holocaust survivor can tell their story to your students. The great thing about this museum is that they understand the importance of a good tour guide. They have tour guides who are specifically used to tell the story to younger students in an appropriate way that they can understand. They are even able to show students how something like the Holocaust can be similar to the hate in America today against certain ethnic groups.
2) The Museum of Westward Expansion, under the arch in St. Louis
Students will be more than excited to travel here and learn about history! Not only will they get to travel up in the Arch (for a fee) but they will also get to explore the westward expansion and what that meant for St. Louis. The exhibits are fun and eye catching and are sure to keep the students talking long after the field trip is over. The best part… It’s FREE!
3) Saint Louis Science Center
Many may be asking how the Science Center can be considered a place for students to learn about history. It is one of those great places that can incorporate science and history (Hello, two field trips in one!) that allow students to make the connection of how the two subjects are related. The Science Center is completely free unless you want your students to experience one of the many exhibits that visit the center each year which normally charge for a ticket.
by Dennis Martinez-
During fall semester 2010, I had to do a Junior Achievement assignment that involved me student teaching for a quarter of the year. I was to teach 8th grade economics for 8 class periods and then help the teacher with all different types of tasks. As I was there, we would have a 5-10 minute lecture and then go into groups and have to class play all these different games that would address different economic problems. Once my teaching period was done, I would go in during the teacher’s history class and help her with the students. One day we started to talk about field trips, I asked her if the students had any fun trips to museums in the coming months. She told me that with the budget crisis and everything Illinois schools are going through, field trips are very limited. She also told me something that I couldn’t believe.
When she would bring up possible field trips to museums around the area, she would get responses like “been there” or “boring.” The students weren’t interested in going to museums. She then went on to find an alternative, cheap, fun way to get the history of events, places, and museums studied in her class. She assigned a short Internet search report on different places around the world and their significance. For example, a student would write a report on Mt. Rushmore, stating; who, what, where, when, and why. This seemed to really spark the kids again, and got them to really explore more than what was in their back yards, but I noticed that kids still didn’t go to museums around the area.
The argument here for me was that if these kids do not want to go to museums, then what can the museums do to create a pull factor to attract the new generation to the museums? How can schools with a budget crisis support museum studies?