Monica raised an objection (or perhaps better, voiced a caution) about my last post: i suggested offering kids timelines at the start of social studies units, she said — well who gets to pick what is on the timeline. Of course that can be a vexing question for teachers and administrators every period in the history of India, China, Pre-Columbian America you add is a period of, say, European history you subtract. But it strikes me that for students that very fact makes for a great educational opportunity. What if, as I suggested, at the start of each year students were given a timeline for their yearly social studies focus. Then, during the last week of the year, the class would go back to that initial timelines and edit it — arrive at its judgement about what belonged, should be cut, should be added. That new timeline would be the initial one given out on the first day the following year. Class after class would pass the timeline baton on, and then, say, every ten years a teacher could take out the decade’s worth and line them up — for a lucky class to compare and contrast. Students would get to see, but also participate in, the creation of the backbone of history. Now if the timeline settles down, and doesn’t change much year to year — then that school at least will have solved Monica’s problem. And if it keeps changing, all the better, because that will be a sign of student engagement with history.
More Thoughts on Monica’s Point About Timeline Controversies
August 30, 2010 by