Friday, January 16, 2004

Achieving History Standards in Elementary Schools.

Achieving History Standards in Elementary Schools. This is a good article on why history standards should be sought in elementary schools in the USA.

From the site:

Concern over the quality and quantity of history instruction offered in many U.S. public schools has resulted in National History Standards for grades K-12. The National Standards, along with recent research on history learning, have influenced curriculum guides, textbook revisions, and new instructional materials in various formats.

RESEARCH ON CHILDREN'S ABILITY TO LEARN HISTORY

Children can and do understand historical time in a variety of ways (Downey and Levstik 1991). For example, children are capable of reconstructing patterns and sequences of historical events as they are represented in story-form narratives (Levstik and Pappas 1987). Children's ability to understand cause and effect relationships taking place over time--a basic dimension of historical reasoning--increases throughout childhood and adolescence (Zaccaria 1978). By the end of 5th grade, students have acquired a good grasp of historical time terminology, can detect historical anomalies, and show some understanding of time periods in United States history (Hoge 1991). Research-based conclusions about the delayed (late adolescence) development of formal historical thinking ability still stand, though new studies, stimulated by new theories and improved research methodologies, suggest that this ability arises earlier than indicated by older studies (Levstik and Pappas 1992).

Different methods of teaching history produce different history learning outcomes. For example, children taught with a traditional textbook-worksheet-quiz routine learn more names and dates compared to those taught in a topically focused, non-survey approach that employs a variety of instructional materials. However, students in the non-traditional approach develop better insight into the past, better historical reasoning abilities, and more positive attitudes toward the subject (Booth 1980).

Downey and Levstik (1991) conclude that history instruction should (1) begin in the early grades, (2) focus on in-depth, sustained study of significant material rather than shallow coverage, and (3) make use of age-appropriate learning strategies.

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