ERIC Number: ED306190
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989
Reference Count: N/A
Teaching Social History: An Update.
Stearns, Peter N.
The bulk of the most innovative and widely noted research over the past 20 years has fallen into the category of social history. It adds a list of new topics to the understanding of the past and a sense of excitement that traditional history instruction lacks. It has the potential of bringing a wider range of students toward an interest in history. This social history update, while skimming over the now familiar groundwork, responds to recent distractions and distortions in educational policy statements, uses criticism to improve the articulation of social history's teaching purpose, and acknowledges the important maturation in thinking about the field and its relationship with other history teaching goals. Social history should be widely implemented in elementary-secondary education where it can introduce students to the real range of history while their attitudes toward the discipline are being formed. Assessments of the criticisms of the discipline from the political right need to be made to show the weaknesses of the arguments. Three advances in social history teaching are examined. The "big changes" approach focuses on important events occurring in major time periods. "Mentalities history" focuses on the intensely-held beliefs and attitudes of large groups of people. The "state and society" approach integrates social history with traditional history instruction. These approaches are not entirely worked out and they require teacher interpretation. Conclusions suggest that the signposts are in place for a further redirection of history instruction that can combine old and new ways to find challenge and coherence in the past. (GEA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Policymakers; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A