EDUCATION & UNIVERSITY MUSINGS
- Higher Education
- December 23, 2013
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 23, 2013
Source: The Oklahoma U Daily 2-28-12
Instructors need to teach the U.S. Constitution to all students in a stimulating way to create well-educated citizens who are aware of their responsibilities, according to seven panelists in a discussion Tuesday.
Photo by Astrud Reed
Panelist Akhil Reed Amar, Yale Law and Political Science Professor, responds to a question from Diane Rehm, NPR radio program host and event moderator, at Monday’s “The Teaching of Constitutional History in the 21st Century University.”
Students, faculty and visitors crowded into Catlett Music Center to hear noted historians share perspectives on teaching America’s founding in a panel titled, “The Teaching of Constitutional History in the 21st-century University.”
National Public Radio host Diane Rehm moderated the panel, which was part of OU’s inaugural “Teach-In: A Day with Some of the Greatest Teachers in America.”
The U.S. needs leaders and teachers who can make the Constitution relevant to students of all ages and backgrounds, Pulitzer-prize winning historian David McCullough said.
“There is nothing wrong with the younger generation,” he said. “The younger generation is terrific, and any problems they have, any failings they have, and what they know and don’t know is not their fault — it’s our fault.”
Teachers are the most important people in the society, and they should not be blamed for these failings either, McCullough said.
“I think that history, the love of history and the understanding of history begins truly, literally at home,” McCullough said.
In today’s education system students are not trained enough to ask questions, and this is a serious issue, he said.
Some students get all the way to college and have very little knowledge about the Constitution, said Kyle Harper, director of the OU Institute for American Constitutional Heritage.
“One of the exciting things about teaching in college is that you are teaching adults, and you are teaching kids who are becoming adults,” Harper said.
Harper aims to create situations for debate in classrooms to make college students realize that the facts on a page influence their political lives, he said.
In most graduate schools Constitutional history is always there, but undergraduate schools simply neglect it, Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Gordon Wood said. Even in graduate training, issues of race and women have preoccupied graduate training and the writing of history….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 28, 2012
Source: NYT, 2-19-12
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington plans to display the lunch counter from an important civil rights protest in Greensboro, N.C. More Photos »
Drive through any state in the Deep South and you will find a monument or a museum dedicated to civil rights.
Engraved names on a civil rights memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. Such monuments are common in southern states. More Photos »
The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum. More Photos »
A visitor can peer into the motel room in Memphis where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was staying when he was shot or stand near the lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., where four young men began a sit-in that helped end segregation.
Other institutions are less dramatic, like the Tubman African American Museum in Macon, Ga., where Jim Crow-era toilet fixtures are on display alongside folk art.
But now, a second generation of bigger, bolder museums is about to emerge.
Atlanta; Jackson, Miss.; and Charleston, S.C., all have projects in the works. Coupled with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which breaks ground in Washington this week, they represent nearly $750 million worth of plans.
Collectively, they also signal an emerging era of scholarship and interest in the history of both civil rights and African-Americans that is to a younger generation what other major historical events were to their grandparents. “We’re at that stage where the civil rights movement is the new World War II,” said Doug Shipman, the chief executive officer for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, a $100 million project that is to break ground in Atlanta this summer and open in 2014.
“It’s a move to the next phase of telling this story,” he said.
The collection at the museum, which is to be set on two and half acres of prime downtown real estate donated by Coca-Cola, will include 10,000 documents and artifacts from Dr. King and a series of paintings based on the life of Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, by the artist Benny Andrews, who died in 2006….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 19, 2012
Source: Guardian (UK), 11-21-11
Towards the end of a typically barnstorming performance at the Hay Festival in May last year, during which Niall Ferguson had rubbished the way history was taught in this country, the spotlight was turned towards the audience to reveal that the new education secretary, Michael Gove, had snuck into the event and was sitting somewhere near the back. And after a few not entirely convincing exchanges of surprise along the lines of “Fancy seeing you here!”, “You’re marvellous”, “No, you’re marvellous”, Gove offered Ferguson a job on the spot to help reform the history curriculum….
Wisely, perhaps, Gove chose to consult not just Ferguson. Instead, using the contacts book that mysteriously opens up for new ministers, he also invited several other well-known historians, including Simon Schama and Richard Evans, to contribute their suggestions for the wholesale reform of history teaching. Somewhere not far into the process, he also asked David Cannadine, Dodge Professor of History at Princeton – and, with Ferguson and Schama, yet another of the UK’s top academic exports to the US – for his thoughts. Eighteen months down the line, Gove might rather be wishing he hadn’t.
Like Gove and Ferguson, Cannadine has also taken a profound interest in how history is taught in state schools; unlike them, he didn’t think that relying on hearsay and ideology was the best way to decide public policy. “There had been a great many theories about how history had been taught over time,” Cannadine says, “but no one had done any detailed research to provide the evidence to back them up.” So about two and a half years ago Cannadine, along with two research fellows, Jenny Keating and Nicola Sheldon, funded by the Linbury Trust and the Institute of Historical Research, set out to find the empirical data, and this week their findings are published in The Right Kind of History….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 21, 2011
Source: Cleveland Plain-Dealer, 11-17-11
Steven Volk, a history professor at Oberlin College, is one of the U.S. Professors of the Year.
Steven Volk, a history professor and chair of the Latin American Studies committee at Oberlin College, was honored Thursday as a U.S. Professor of the Year.
The award, sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and administered by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, honors outstanding teaching and commitment to undergraduate students.
“Obviously, I’m very thrilled and blessed . . . . I am incredibly thankful,” said Volk, who has been teaching at Oberlin for 26 years.
Judges called Volk an “extraordinarily dedicated undergraduate teacher, who is skilled in engaging students with history — even the ‘back-row boys.’”
Volk said that to maximize discussion time in class, he posts video lectures on the web so that students can watch them ahead of time.
“Every class is a discussion, because that is the way that students can construct their own comprehension and knowledge,” he said. “History is not all about learning dates and the names of places. In fact, students need to participate actively to become a historian.”
Volk said that becoming a good teacher is a process.
“In some ways I obviously taught for many years, but in other ways I didn’t really begin to teach until I had a greater understanding of what teaching and learning was all about,” he said. “I began to understand that teaching is not this transfer of content from my head to somebody else’s, but it’s the creation of an environment that students can learn in.”
Volk, who founded the Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence at Oberlin College to help faculty develop their teaching skills, said he and his colleagues must act as facilitators to help students learn.
Much of Volk’s academic focus has been in Chile, where he worked on his dissertation in the early 1970s and remained involved for years to help restore democracy there.
He was honored as the top professor at the nation’s baccalaureate colleges. Also recognized Thursday were three other outstanding professors – representing community colleges, doctoral and research universities, and master’s universities….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 17, 2011
Source: Fairfax Times, 9-30-11
After criticism in regard to factual errors removed it from classrooms last school year, a fourth-grade Virginia history textbook gained reapproval by the State Board of Education on Sept. 22.
Factual errors were discovered in “Our Virginia: Past and Present” by a College of William & Mary history professor whose child brought the book home from school. In March, the Board of Education voted to remove its approval of the book and another book published by Five Pond Press — “Our America to 1865.”
At that time, the board agreed to reconsider approval of the books if the publisher corrected the errors. In June, Five Pond Press submitted a second edition of both books with reviews. Initial review began in July, followed by a 30-day public comment period, during which time eight comments were submitted. Most of the feedback focused on credibility of the textbooks because of the initial errors, as well as remaining errors found in the book, according to state education staff.
The Board of Education voted 8-1 on Sept. 22 to reapprove the textbooks for classroom use.
“Getting these books right is something that requires enormous time and Five Ponds Press has had the benefit over this year of having that extra public scrutiny looking at their publications, looking at their documents, helping them make them better,” said Board of Education member K. Rob Krupicka of Alexandria. “They need to — and every other publisher needs to — learn from these last 12 months and recognize how critical it is that they have third-party review, aggressive third-party review and multiple third-party reviews of their textbook… you can have experts look at things and you can still find problems.”
Complaints about the Five Pond Press textbooks caused the Board of Education to review and make changes to its textbook approval process.
Final copies of the two textbooks were not available to the board during its regular meeting Sept. 22, but state education staff members said they would review the final text to make sure errors were corrected.
“West Virginia will not show up on the map until after the Civil War, I trust?” asked the Board’s Vice President David M. Foster of Arlington.
Board member Winsome E. Spears of Stephenson was the lone vote against reapproving the books. During last week’s meeting, she questioned why the board was not being asked to review and approve supplementary material for these textbooks produced by Five Ponds Press.
Staff said the board does not review this material, which is not a required additional purchase by school systems. Several board members suggested a future discussion on whether it should approve supplementary material as classroom materials become more technology based.
Early complaints about “Our Virginia: Past and Present” focused on the textbook’s claim that thousands of blacks fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, “including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.”
Historian Ronald Heinemann, a professor teaching at Hampden-Sydney College, was asked by the Fairfax County school system to survey the book for errors.
“There were almost too many errors to list,” he said at the time, adding many key dates in the textbook were wrong.
“They have America going into World War I in 1916, instead of 1917,” he said. The book also lists President Ulysses S. Grant taking office in 1870, when the 18th president took office in 1869.
“I came up with 50 [errors],” said Heinemann, adding a colleague of his found more than twice that amount, but included errors that could be interpreted wrong.
Fairfax County Public Schools purchased copies of the Virginia history book, but not the American history textbook.
“Since we were made aware of the errors last year, schools were instructed to use a corrected online version of the book,” said Paul Regnier, Fairfax County Public Schools spokesman.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 2, 2011
Source: Cornell Daily Sun, 9-28-11
Following a noticeable decline in the number of students enrolled in history courses, the University’s Department of History has taken measures to boost its enrollment and attract students from a variety of disciplines.
This fall, the department added a history minor — one of 38 offered in the College of Arts and Sciences — and has recently added several new 1000- and 2000-level courses intended to appeal specifically to freshman and sophomores.
Though administrators said enrollment data was unavailable, many said they noticed a decline in the number of students enrolled in history classes.
The department has seen “its enrollment decline somewhat in the past few years,” said Barry Strauss ’74, chair of the history department.
Jon Parmenter, Director of Undergraduate Students for the history department, said the department is “certainly concerned about enrollments.”
According to Strauss and Parmenter, the new history minor — which can be fulfilled by taking five courses, including one seminar class — is aimed at increasing enrollment by targeting students who may be reluctant to take history classes without getting credit toward a degree.
“We’ve noticed a lot of undergraduates are interested in having as diverse an experience as possible to document on their diploma,” Parmenter said. “It seems as if minors are increasingly important in showing that students have a broad array of interests.”
Strauss added that the College of Arts and Sciences also encouraged all department chairs to consider adding minors to their departments as a way to reduce the pressure on undergraduates both inside and outside of the college.
“We wanted to make it possible for all undergraduates to explore this subject without wearing themselves out by trying to pursue a double major,” Strauss said. “It’s a different way of reaching out to students who are still interested in history.”…READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 28, 2011
Source: NYT 9-27-11
When Julian Bond, the former Georgia lawmaker and civil rights activist, turned to teaching two decades ago, he often quizzed his college students to gauge their awareness of the civil rights movement. He did not want to underestimate their grasp of the topic or talk down to them, he said.
“My fears were misplaced,” Mr. Bond said. No student had heard of George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama, he said. One student guessed that Mr. Wallace might have been a CBS newsman.
That ignorance by American students of the basic history of the civil rights movement has not changed — in fact, it has worsened, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, on whose board Mr. Bond sits. The report says that states’ academic standards for public schools are one major cause of the problem.
“Across the country, state educational standards virtually ignore our civil rights history,” concludes the report, which is to be released on Wednesday….
Many states have turned Dr. King’s life into a fable, said Mr. Bond, who now teaches at American University and the University of Virginia. He said his students knew that “there used to be segregation until Martin Luther King came along, that he marched and protested, that he was killed, and that then everything was all right.”… READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 27, 2011
Do Minnesota students know their U.S. history?
Despite a recent report showing a limited grasp of U.S. history by the nation’s students, Minnesota educators generally give fair marks to the students here. Young people often have a pretty good sense of dates, places, names and basic trends, the educators say. But the teachers say that improvement is needed, and worry that the emphasis on math, reading and the sciences may detract from learning about history, which they say is crucial to becoming solid citizens with a sense of national identity.
“I think you’re really trying to address one of the fundamentals of the human experience: Who are we, what have we done, and where are we going?” said Tim Hoogland, director of education outreach programs for the Minnesota Historical Society.
Still, Minnesota teachers aren’t doing the kind of hand-wringing that followed last month’s release of U.S. history test results by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Some educators around the nation said they were alarmed by the results of the 2010 test, which showed only 20 percent of fourth-graders, 17 percent of eighth-graders, and 12 percent of 12th-graders were proficient or better in the subject. Results were not broken out state-by-state in the NAEP report, so Minnesotans’ standing wasn’t immediately available….
“I find the students who … have graduated from American high schools have a basic understanding of the broad periods and watershed events of American history,” said Lisa Norling, an associate professor of history at the University of Minnesota….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 4, 2011
‘We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate,” David McCullough tells me on a recent afternoon in a quiet meeting room at the Boston Public Library. Having lectured at more than 100 colleges and universities over the past 25 years, he says, “I know how much these young people—even at the most esteemed institutions of higher learning—don’t know.” Slowly, he shakes his head in dismay. “It’s shocking.”
He’s right. This week, the Department of Education released the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, which found that only 12% of high-school seniors have a firm grasp of our nation’s history. And consider: Just 2% of those students understand the significance of Brown v. Board of Education….
The 77-year-old author has been doing his part—he’s written nine books over the last four decades, including his most recent, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris,” a story of young Americans who studied in a culturally dominant France in the 19th century to perfect their talents. He’s won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.
“History is a source of strength,” he says. “It sets higher standards for all of us.” But helping to ensure that the next generation measures up, he says, will be a daunting task….READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 18, 2011
A new report, from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, on median salaries for undergraduate majors finds that history majors go on to earn fairly respectable salaries. Looking at the median salary for everyone aged 18 to 64 years old with an undergraduate degree in any one of 171 different fields, the report finds that history majors do the best in the humanities, and better than students in a majority of the other fields.
The report separates majors in U.S. history from the rest, and finds it makes a big difference. Students who majored in U.S. history earned $57,000, as compared to $50,000 for other majors in history. The average salary for U.S. history majors was 18.7 percent higher than the average for all the humanities. The average salary for other history majors was the second highest, and on a level only with art history and criticism. U.S. history is also quite high relative to most of the other fields in the survey (especially in fields outside of the scientific, engineering, and business fields).
The report also highlights a few other interesting pieces of information—a significant portion of the history majors (43 percent) went on to earn graduate degrees in history or another field. And a substantial number of history students went into business—one in five said they were in management positions, for instance, and over 15 percent in sales (see figure below).
For further analysis of the report see this article from The Chronicle, along with their interactive graphic. Inside Higher Ed also weighs in on the data, noting the surprising finding that “women and minorities clustered in low-paying fields with few opportunities for advancement.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 6, 2011
This past week, we learned that American students are less proficient in the history of the United States than in any other subject. The New York Times reported that the National Assessment of Educational Progress released the results of a nationwide exam given to thousands of students. According to the results, most fourth graders couldn’t explain why Abraham Lincoln was important. Eighth graders couldn’t identify why American forces had an advantage over the British during the Revolution…READ MORE
Posted by bonniekgoodman on January 17, 2011