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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlai View Post
    I have a nephew who keeps telling me history and geography are easy. (I thought to myself "You mean they made the subjects easy...")
    Or someone made them make it easy. The world history teacher I wrote about, fwiw, was not a coach, either. She just believed that teaching so the kids get an easy grade was what she was supposed to do.

    There are some bad social studies teachers. But there are a lot of good ones who gave up and made it easy, too. And a lot of good ones that are taking hell every day for trying to do it right. And a few like me who quit all together because it was not physically and emotionally healthy to fight for it anymore.

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    I'm a history teacher and I love what I do.

    My own approach is that even if a kid is more of a math/science type, they should still get quite a bit from me as a teacher. I lean towards skills. I want to teach them to read, write and think critically. If I can do that, then I've moved them ahead, even if they don't care a whit for the Ottoman Empire.

    I do think things are changing. The methods courses that I've taken emphasize this a lot. Though I agree with Matry that history teachers need content training at the college level. You aren't going to be able to think of cool activities if you can't get through the content they do need (very big general picture IMO) and are stumbling over the facts yourself.

    And any history teacher who follows the book (meaning only lectures on text content) should ask themselves why the students need a book in that case, or alternatively, why they need a teacher to recite the book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by icecat View Post
    . I voted private school. But for how long and why?
    I believe PD taught in a private school.

    All schools are different. At mine, all of the Social Studies teachers are coaches, but two of them are also good teachers. The others show a lot of movies. Oh, and basketball, during the NCAA tournament.

    I teach a lot of history when I introduce Animal Farm (and then my definition of communism and the ROTC instructors' definition of communism come into conflict ), Children of the River (Cambodia under Pol Pot) and the Odyssey. I try to time the novels so they are taught at the same time the geography teacher is covering those areas, but it doesn't always work.

    And you know, it might not be that the teachers aren't covering the material. It just might be that the kids aren't paying attention.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by PrincessLeppard View Post
    I believe PD taught in a private school.


    And you know, it might not be that the teachers aren't covering the material. It just might be that the kids aren't paying attention.
    I did. But we were required by the equivalent of district officials in public education to follow the same standards required of local public schools. We also often used texts from textbook loan from the local public district. So one reason we couldn't get new social studies texts was that the public district wasn't getting new ones which meant we couldn't request them via textbook loan.

    And the second issue is definitely true.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by PrincessLeppard View Post
    And you know, it might not be that the teachers aren't covering the material. It just might be that the kids aren't paying attention.
    My son loves history. On the last standardized social studies test he took, he scored in the top 1% of the state. He knows more than I do about most history, and far more than I do about World Wars I and II, anything related to Russian history, and economics.

    He takes the same classes as his peers. The difference is that he is engaged and interested, and so pays attention. He does read on his own and has watched a lot of the History Channel, but still--he has learned most of what he knows in school.

    He used to want to be a history teacher, but doesn't any more because he says he couldn't stand trying to teach all those indifferent teenagers who couldn't care less what happened in the past or how the world has come to be what it is.

    And as I said before, I sometimes bring up things in my classes that I KNOW are part of the standard state history curriculum and my students all swear they've never heard any of it before. I have a little history trivia treasure hunt I do as an exercise in finding information on the internet; I stick with American history, as I know that is what most of the students are most familiar with. And I still get from students who think the things I have them find are new and shocking. This also happens when I teach lit--you cannot understand literature without having a good grasp of history. It's like some of them have never heard even the most basic stuff before.

    At the same time, I get some students who DO know a lot. Same curriculum, same basic education, but a few of them know it and most of them don't.

    People tend to assume that if students don't know something, it means it wasn't taught. Not so at all.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post

    People tend to assume that if students don't know something, it means it wasn't taught. Not so at all.
    That is because there is a growing notion of education as a passive activity. All of the focus on the teacher being the determining factor in student success has fed that idea.

    At the same time, sometimes it really hasn't been taught. My students would have not the slightest clue about the French Revolution when we read A Tale of Two Cities in senior honors English. But the world history teacher (principal when she left: 'We're losing one of the greatest teachers I've ever known!") had them focus on making models of guillotines and the Arc de Triomphe during that unit, then give a multiple choice test which included the vital information that Napoleon was short. If I brought it up to her in a department meeting, she would say "I covered it'. "Covering" is not teaching.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlai View Post
    I'm more converned about the lack of global focus in the US curriculum in general (I'm sure different states differ but mostly I don't think there's an emphasis in studying about the world, foreign languages and so on--at least compared to other countries. Though I must admit that powerful countries in the past had been just as "egocentric" in their outlook--China back several hundred years ago, Japan in the 80s, etc. ).
    New York state, at least when I went to high school 94-98, had two years of "Global Studies" for 9/10th grades with a Regents exam at the end of 10th, American history for 11th grade, then seniors had a split year of PIG (participation in government) or AP government to earn college credits, and economics (I think). There was also AP European history as an elective. I had a terrible Global 2 teacher, but a wonderful US history teacher.

    To earn a Regents diploma, which any credible C-and-higher student did, you needed to take at least 3 years in a foreign language and pass the exam. All students took mandatory foreign language (Spanish or French) from 5th to 8th grade. When we got to high school, there was Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Latin.

    Regents have changed since I graduated, and electives like Japanese vary widely by school district and of course by state. I'm glad that my family ended up in a state with such high educational standards and very lucky that I went to a school ranked 75th in the state. But you're painting in broad strokes when the answer is really quite diverse.

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    What you said is more than what my state has but IMHO it's still not wonderful global education--I think a good global education should aim at students being bilingual to the point of reading foreign literary masterpieces, studying political systems in other countries in government classes, multi-year coverage of world history covering other countries, etc. It shouldn't be just "global studies" as a one or two-year unit. It should be global studies embedded in every course and curriculum, in the "think global" manner. To me that's the ideal.

    Granted, many big powerful nations (present or past) did not or do not offer that kind of education. It's not just about the United States. That said, many students from China, Russia and other nations come to the States for college and they learn multi-culturalism that hard way. Now if more US students will go abroad for part of their college...

    eta: Frankly I think Americans are victims of its geography (only having 2 nations as neighbors in the same continent) and the fact thtat they are speaking the world's most dominant language.

    Quote Originally Posted by vesperholly View Post
    New York state, at least when I went to high school 94-98, had two years of "Global Studies" for 9/10th grades with a Regents exam at the end of 10th, American history for 11th grade, then seniors had a split year of PIG (participation in government) or AP government to earn college credits, and economics (I think). There was also AP European history as an elective. I had a terrible Global 2 teacher, but a wonderful US history teacher.

    To earn a Regents diploma, which any credible C-and-higher student did, you needed to take at least 3 years in a foreign language and pass the exam. All students took mandatory foreign language (Spanish or French) from 5th to 8th grade. When we got to high school, there was Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Latin.

    Regents have changed since I graduated, and electives like Japanese vary widely by school district and of course by state. I'm glad that my family ended up in a state with such high educational standards and very lucky that I went to a school ranked 75th in the state. But you're painting in broad strokes when the answer is really quite diverse.
    Last edited by jlai; 10-01-2011 at 09:17 PM.

  9. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    In 2008, I had government students follow the elections. Teaching them how the electoral college worked using the election as it unfolded worked brilliantly when we followed a website called 270toWin which was forecasting the election based on polling in the states. One memorable Monday, the state of Minnesota changed from neutral (too close to call) to blue (Obama leading), that change on the projected map gave Obama his first real projected lead. I spent the next two days with irate parents yelling at me that I had no right "to give Obama the presidency". I badly wanted to say that I was unaware I had that much power. Many teachers react to this idiocy by simply avoiding the topic. I had already been screamed at by many parents (supported by the dumbass principal) for showing Obama's convention speech to the students before McCain's. We started school in mid-August. I showed the speeches the day after they were given. You may recall that in 2008, the Democratic convention was first. Sadly, I had to point this out to the principal who was unaware of that fact. If I were still teaching, I would give serious consideration to not teaching directly about the 2012 election in any class.
    ((PDilemma)) I find this profoundly depressing.
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

  10. #30
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    I will get flamed by the teachers (particularly History and those who teach geography and social studies) but I have a different point of view.

    Japanfan: Is it really important to know the three largest cities in Canada? or the United States, or Mexico, or England?

    I think what it more important is that population of cities/countries fluctuates and why. Why the US has a moire urban population and that diversity of the population is changing the way we do business or politics in the US.

    I think that it is more important to know that the unsanitary conditions caused bubonic plague and how we dealt with those conditions is more important than the actual dates.

    I think it is more important to know the reasons why Nazi Germany came to being and why World War 2 happened then actual dates.

    I think that it is more important to know how the world changed because of the ability to mass produce printed word than the actual date of the printing press.

    You get the idea. That the why and how and what is more important than the when

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by numbers123 View Post
    I will get flamed by the teachers (particularly History and those who teach geography and social studies) but I have a different point of view.

    Japanfan: Is it really important to know the three largest cities in Canada? or the United States, or Mexico, or England?

    I think what it more important is that population of cities/countries fluctuates and why. Why the US has a moire urban population and that diversity of the population is changing the way we do business or politics in the US.

    I think that it is more important to know that the unsanitary conditions caused bubonic plague and how we dealt with those conditions is more important than the actual dates.

    I think it is more important to know the reasons why Nazi Germany came to being and why World War 2 happened then actual dates.

    I think that it is more important to know how the world changed because of the ability to mass produce printed word than the actual date of the printing press.

    You get the idea. That the why and how and what is more important than the when
    I don't know what you're reading, but I think that is what both Matryeshka and I have been saying in this thread.

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDilemma View Post
    I don't know what you're reading, but I think that is what both Matryeshka and I have been saying in this thread.
    in general the standardized tests are asking for dates and when my sons were in school, it was not so important as the why, how and what but the when. So many teachers do not have the time to teach more than dates.

    And FWIW - I suck at the geography game that someone posted a link several years ago. And given a blank outline of North America, I honestly couldn't identify where one border ended and other one started.

  13. #33
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    i agree across the board on the "behind the scenes' look at history and used it extensively when homeschooling my youngest. but without a timeline to put it in perspective I think it loses much effectiveness.

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by icecat View Post
    i agree across the board on the "behind the scenes' look at history and used it extensively when homeschooling my youngest. but without a timeline to put it in perspective I think it loses much effectiveness.
    Kids need to put history in order. You can't ignore dates, but that doesn't mean they have to memorize them.

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by jlai View Post
    What you said is more than what my state has but IMHO it's still not wonderful global education--I think a good global education should aim at students being bilingual to the point of reading foreign literary masterpieces, studying political systems in other countries in government classes, multi-year coverage of world history covering other countries, etc.
    Bilingual? When would I ever use that skill? I took 7 years of Spanish and hardly remember a thing - due to attrition of use, not disinterest. I don't disagree with your other criteria, but it's just not economical to go overboard teaching something of little value to the majority. Students who want to become bilingual will certainly achieve it themselves.

    I'd ditch a history or even senior-year math requirement for a mandatory personal finance course, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by jlai View Post
    It shouldn't be just "global studies" as a one or two-year unit. It should be global studies embedded in every course and curriculum, in the "think global" manner. To me that's the ideal. (snip) eta: Frankly I think Americans are victims of its geography (only having 2 nations as neighbors in the same continent) and the fact thtat they are speaking the world's most dominant language.
    I think what we need is not more education but more travel. Get out of your sheltered life and see the world. Only by experience in the real world can people truly understand how other countries function. Unfortunately, being that America is so big and so physically isolated from Europe and Asia, that is financially impossible for many if not most Americans. Even students who can manage to go to college, semesters abroad aren't cheap. I think a state-to-state exchange program would be pretty cool.

    PDilemma, that's one scary story. All that uproar over people who can't even vote!

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    Quote Originally Posted by vesperholly View Post
    Bilingual? When would I ever use that skill? I took 7 years of Spanish and hardly remember a thing - due to attrition of use, not disinterest.
    • Watching Spanish-language television

    • Listening to Spanish-language radio

    • Reading Spanish-language newspapers and periodicals

    • Reading Spanish-language books, often obtainable at general-interest bookstores that have "Libros en Español" section or on line

    • Visiting Spanish-language websites for news, recipes, entertainment, etc.

    • Going on vacation in Spanish-speaking countries, most of which have few people who are fluent in English

    • In any number of jobs for which proficiency in Spanish is a requirement or an advantage; e.g., being a physician in Southern California

    • Interacting with the large number of people in this country whose first language is Spanish and whose proficiency in English is limited at best

  17. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by numbers123 View Post
    in general the standardized tests are asking for dates and when my sons were in school, it was not so important as the why, how and what but the when. So many teachers do not have the time to teach more than dates.

    And FWIW - I suck at the geography game that someone posted a link several years ago. And given a blank outline of North America, I honestly couldn't identify where one border ended and other one started.
    Was the game the evil Ubi? http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1699...dest-game-ever

    I never knew there were so many islands I didn't know. Or how hard it is to know which German river is which on a map without political boundaries or cities labeled.

    But on the standardized test issue, I'd have to disagree about it being primarily focused on dates. Most states don't even test Social Studies. Those that do usually use questions similar to the one's in California's released questions:
    http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/docum...gr8history.pdf

    They're very, very strong on "describe, explain, or discuss" and there is virtually no need for a student to ever include a specific date. (Though understanding what happened in what particular sequence can be important.) Added to that, the scoring rubrics I've seen often tell scorers to ignore incorrect dates or misspellings of names and places.

    California's released questions don't look awful to me. Ambitious, but not awful, and certainly not an expanded game of Trivial Pursuit.

  18. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by numbers123 View Post
    Japanfan: Is it really important to know the three largest cities in Canada? or the United States, or Mexico, or England?
    It's important as general knowledge of the world we live in. And because knowing about places goes hand-in-hand with having an awareness of world beyond the place where you live.

    I think what it more important is that population of cities/countries fluctuates and why. Why the US has a moire urban population and that diversity of the population is changing the way we do business or politics in the US.

    I think that it is more important to know that the unsanitary conditions caused bubonic plague and how we dealt with those conditions is more important than the actual dates.

    I think it is more important to know the reasons why Nazi Germany came to being and why World War 2 happened then actual dates.

    I think that it is more important to know how the world changed because of the ability to mass produce printed word than the actual date of the printing press.

    You get the idea. That the why and how and what is more important than the when
    I don't disagree. But when you learn the why and how, you learn other details such as place. Dates are difficult to remember, but places are easy.

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Japanfan View Post
    I don't disagree. But when you learn the why and how, you learn other details such as place. Dates are difficult to remember, but places are easy.
    Places aren't easy to remember, not to me. I mean, think China in 500 BC or some other date, and there was a battle in this ancient city which no longer exists and is now where? Not to mention the changes in names of regions over time. And on top of that, in the old days, they dated everything after the names of the emperors and you have to mentally convert Emperior X, Year 4 to a BC or AD date.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Japanfan View Post
    It's important as general knowledge of the world we live in..
    I agree that it is important to know where this city or that city is placed in the world, but to know the three largest or more populous in each country is a little irrelevant.

    Maybe important to know since there are cities that have the same name but located in different countries. Vancouver, London, etc.

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