Sunday, February 5, 2017

Who Gets to Tell [Y]Our story? @Edhistory101 - Uncovering The Truth With @JennBinis

Note: Twitter won't let you Tweet my blog url. Please use this shortened url instead http://tinyurl.com/whotellsyourhistory 

Who determines the truth and gets to tell the story of us in the history books? Jenn Borgioli Binis (@JennBinis), @edhistory101 host, led a conversation at Educon which looked at the answer to this question. She specifically looked at the history of education. She challenged attendees to think about stories told from the perspectives of those who haven’t traditionally told them and had schools named after them.

What if instead of getting the history of education from the men on the left side of the images below, we heard the stories from those on the right side?


One  Educon participant had this idea for getting started on the journey.

Here was the process we used:
  1. Start with what we know to be true
  2. Consider how we know this to be true
  3. Investigate the source(s) of that truth
  4. Try to find other perspectives


After going through this process a few times, what we found was that some long-standing beliefs are not based in fact.


For example, many people believe we have summers off from school because in the 19th century families needed to work the farm.  However, upon investigation we found that summer is not when crops need to be planted and harvested. This explanation couldn’t be true? It turns out, that schools started getting summers off when middle and upper class families, left the cities for cooler climates in the summer. The schools were hot and pretty empty so schools closed and a booming vacation and camp industry was started.


Here are some ways to bring this work to the classroom
  • Look at textbook information. Provide students with sources from others during that time period. Have students rewrite a section with information from another perspective.
  • Find famous quotes in history books or from historical texts and find quotes about the same topic from those who are less heard from. Create signs and memes with those quotes. Imgur is a useful source for this.
  • Investigate the racial and gender makeup of the schools in your community? What trends do you notice?
  • Conduct a campaign to rename places, parks, streets, in the community. Start by naming rooms in your building i.e. your classroom, library, cafeteria.

What do you think? Could this be a useful way to look at history, long-held beliefs, and current events in your classroom? Have you tried any of these ideas? What have your experiences been?
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