Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Education Secretary Duncan Announces $115.3 Million for 124 Grants to Improve Teaching of American History

Press Release:
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the award of $115.3 million to 124 school districts to improve the quality of teaching American history in our nation's schools.

The Teaching American History grant program aims to enhance teachers' understanding of American history through intensive professional development, including study trips to historic sites and mentoring with professional historians and other experts. Projects are required to partner with organizations that have broad knowledge of American history, such as libraries, museums, nonprofit historical or humanities organizations, and higher education institutions.

History is one of the core academic subjects under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Teaching American History grants are funded for a three-year period. They will be awarded to school districts in 40 states, the District of Columbia, and American Samoa.
I've always preferred History to Geography and while schooling in Asia, was in a History-specific education path. The cool thing about my school in Asia was that they conducted lots of history field trips. For example, whilst studying WWII, we had the opportunity to travel to all the historic sites including those in a different county - Malaysia to be exact. Not only was it informative, it made studying history that much more exciting. When I moved back to the U.S., I was intrigued by U.S. History but it never came to life for me as there were few to no field trips conducted.  Perhaps with such a grant, students will now be able to see history as it was back then and have educators who specialize in that particular part of history teach them about it. After all, in order for us to progress towards to the future, we must first learn about our past!

Now that the summer is pretty much over or coming to a close, what can you do to make History studying interesting for your kids? Costco usually has an array of history DVDs. Those might be a fun thing to watch together with your family. It may also be fun to start planning trips with your kids for next summer. Plan to visit different historic sites. I would definitely put a stipulation that in order for these trips to really happen, you, as a family, must learn as much as you can about that historic event, the people involved, and so on and so forth! Bring history to the present by trying to find news articles that somehow have similarities to that historic event. This way, your child will be able to see how history can affect us today and it will be a great way to bring current events into their lives. As you read about both historic and current events, ask your kids what they can learn from it and how they feel about the whole situation. Teaching them about what happened is one thing, but getting them to invest their own opinions and emotion into THAT is teaching!

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