Teaching and Learning History

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  • 1.  History Teaching and Artificial Intelligence

    Posted 12-08-2014 01:49:00 PM

    See the link below for an article concerning how artificial intelligence changes in the next 10 to 15 years will eliminate many current jobs. I would like your thoughts about the teaching of history and what the author says needs to be taught to prepare the next generation of workers. 


    Trinidad Gonzales
    South Texas Coll.
    McAllen TX

  • 2.  RE: History Teaching and Artificial Intelligence

    Posted 12-09-2014 08:38:00 AM

    Very good article with much food for thought. While critical thinking is being taught in school it has been handcuffed by societies, or more fairly put the current political trend toward standardized tests. When a major focus of education is teaching toward a test, critical thinking takes a hit. Many test taking strategies teach students how to succeed in a test taking environment without stressing critical thinking. While the common core allows for critical thinking, and good teachers can even infuse heavy doses of critical thinking many states and districts, because of the testing obsession are not necessarily interested in the skills necessary for critical thinking. The focus instead being how do we improve our scores, and if a subject is not being tested, as happens many times with history/social studies, then less time is given to that subject. We saw that under the push for Math and Science that came about during the previous Presidential administration.

    What is really intriguing about the article is its stress on a humanistic approach to education, something that has taken a serious hit over the last several years. An educational process that stresses thinking, development and intellectual growth over grades will foster a love of learning. The more well rounded student will be exposed to more different types of thinking and learning, to a more varied set of problems and better prepared to face the challenges thrown at them in the real world. As we face new challenges in how to deal with global problems which range from the spread of ebola, to the growth of fundamentalist movements and new business concerns such as how to use and develop the newest technological ideas we will need a population able to think outside the box, be creative and work with each other.

    The development of critical thinking is not just an educational problem it is really a societal necessity. Great creative thinkers are not just scientists like Einstein, they are politicians like FDR, religious leaders like Pope Francis and civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We need to engage our students, striking a balance between needed subjects and subjects that encourage their creativity. The arts are an integral part of this equation as they stimulate the creative side of the brain. A humanistic approach to learning that stresses a depth and breadth of knowledge, balancing content with the individual interests of the student will ignite the desire to learn that the authors of the blog discusses. Too often this fire has been dampened as teachers face greater bureaucracy and restrictions on how and what they should/need to teach, while students are herded like cattle toward the pen that is standardized testing. When society pushes back and urges those in leadership positions to allow a more humanistic approach encouraging learning for learning's sake we may see some progress.

    There are efforts underway to stress student centered learning, which incorporates a lot of cooperative learning (group work) and attempts to allow students to investigate topics under themes and ideas that interest them. Teaching the Industrial Revolution by following the development of the automobile industry for example. While this is a positive idea, it can leave some important topics out and a more thorough coverage may not occur. One problem that stands out is that the students themselves in this approach are at times struggling to adapt because they have come through a system that stresses more teacher driven learning and even route memorization at times. Any switch will require a change in culture by many schools and educators, but will also need support from society at large as well.

    Peter Porter
    Montville Township High Sch.
    West Orange NJ