ERIC Number: EJ930030
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Apr-20
Reference Count: N/A
Primary Sources Enliven Civil War
Robelen, Erik W.
Education Week, v30 n28 p1, 18-19, 21 Apr 2011
Today, a growing number of teachers are moving beyond the textbook in teaching about the war, and U.S. history more broadly. Teachers are digging directly into primary sources and harnessing technology, all in an attempt to help students better understand the past and bring it to life. Doing so may be especially important with the Civil War, educators and historians say, since public debates about its meaning are alive and well, and young people may be exposed to a lot of misinformation that original sources can dispel in compelling ways. One factor helping fuel this kind of learning is the roughly $1 billion supplied over the past decade through the U.S. Department of Education's Teaching American History program, which focuses on professional development to improve instruction in the subject. Participants say a strong component of many workshops and other activities supported by the program is helping teachers use primary sources effectively. Another development has been the rapid increase in primary sources about the Civil War accessible online--from the vast collections of the Library of Congress and the National Archives to those of state historical societies--and the creation of websites such as teachinghistory.org. That site, launched in 2008 with support from the Education Department, helps teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education. The Civil War is one of the pivotal events in the nation's history, even if teachers often struggle to find time to do it justice in history classes that may cover centuries of information. The war saved the Union from a permanent split, led to the end of slavery on U.S. soil, and took far more lives than any other conflict involving American soldiers. And it offers a window into a raft of issues that still resonate, including slavery and racism, the role of the federal government, states' rights, economics, and politics. It's also a compelling tale. Experts say using primary sources, with the help of technology or not, can be a powerful way to bring the war to life, and to build a stronger, more nuanced understanding of the conflict.
Descriptors: United States History, War, Primary Sources, Archives, History Instruction, Electronic Libraries, Web Sites, Instructional Materials, Heritage Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States