So, I’ve been thinking about social studies and history. I am the co-chair of the PreK-12 social studies/history department at my school. One of the issues we are always coming up against is the fact that history is not getting any shorter, in fact it’s getting longer every day. We can’t teach it all in 4 years of high school, we can’t teach it all even if we add in 3 years of middle school. And, expecting that content that gets taught in lower school will not need to be taught again at a more sophisticated level is a pretty high-risk move. So, that leaves us thinking about what to take out.
The careful reader will notice I did not talk about “covering” anything. If we are just interested in covering the material, and we are ok with going at break-neck speed, we could cover a lot. However, that gets us back into a high-risk situation–a high-risk that not a lot will get remembered. If that is the case, why spend the time at all? Well, as you might imagine as the department co-chair, I happen to think that history and social studies are important and worth doing well.
That brings us back to what to cut out, because seriously folks, there is no way to do it all. We need some depth not just breadth.
So, here are my questions. Feel free to answer some or all. (I could really use some comments here. Not only has it been a bunch of posts since I have had any responses other than spam, but I would love to get some ideas.)
- How much US history is too much?
- Are some time periods more equal than others?
- How important is geographical distribution?
- Can some topics/time periods be breezed through lecture style to leave more time for others to get in-depth treatment?
- Is so, which ones?
- Ancient history, how much time should it get?
- Medieval history, an important and interesting time or understand the feudal system and move on?
- How much time to spend on art, music, literature, and culture of the time?