As many of you know, I am working toward a teaching certificate with my history degree. This means that I have lots of education courses to take in addition to my history courses.
My ed course for this semester is cultural and political geography. Our big assignment is that we are designing a course packet to teach our students about civics, economics, politics, history, and geography. For part of our assignment, we had to review some of the rights that the Founding Fathers, Framers, and the Constitution each wanted. This was a group assignment to promote collaborative learning.
That’s when I realized that I might be taking the blessing of a history degree for granted. As I’m talking about some of the ideas of Madison and Jefferson, and as I mention the small amount I know about Locke’s Second Treatise On Government, one of the group members says, “That’s great Phil, but do you have sources? If you had sources this would be solid.” That’s when reality hit me that this is not simply common knowledge.
It is helpful to have these sort of interactions. Often times, since I spend so much time with fellow history majors, where we read the same material and discuss the same theories throughout the semester, some of this knowledge we just do not remember where we heard it from, and we just take our knowledge for granted.
So I went online and found sources to back up what I was saying, but it is just a good reminder for me that not everyone is consistently trying to think historically, because as Sam Wineburg says, thinking historically is an “unnatural act.” Speaking with these students who are trying to becoming elementary and middle school teachers helped give me a good perspective, helped me understand where my students will be coming from, and remind me how I need to approach those who don’t regularly dive into the past, in order to help them interact with the different characters and events of our histories.