Teaching Teachers and Learning from Young Learners

  • Milton Reynolds Temple University Press


At its best, education is an important training for citizenship, and the content we teach plays an important role in this process. One’s ability to ask questions is often a function of what one knows, but may also be a function of what one does not know. History is an argument about the past. Power relationships—who has the ability to legitimize their own stories, whose stories matter, whose stories are in the spotlight and which ones remain in the shadows—are part of the mix. A major challenge of US history teaching and learning is that our narrative is primarily a celebratory one. While not unique to the United States, efforts to avoid the more troubling aspects of our past too often obscure the contributions of an increasingly large segment of our current student population, our future leaders. All nations have a compelling interest in presenting a narrative that is engaging, that is inspiring. However, one casualty of the process of narrative construction is that troubling or controversial aspects of a nation’s history are often relegated to the dustbin. This can leave many wanting, or lead them to become cynical. We need to engage with our past if we are to meet the challenges of our present. Many of today’s most pressing challenges are directly connected to the past.