Part of what I get to do is spend time browsing the Interwebs finding tools and resources that would be useful for history and social studies teachers. Sometimes I find new stuff like the very cool Smithsonian Learning Labs and sometimes I just keep going back to the classics.
Russel Tarr is one of the classics. His Active History site (along with his ClassTools and Tarr’s Toolbox) always has some new strategy or tool that I haven’t seen and it’s always something useful. I’m really not sure how he finds time to actually teach but he’s been doing this for almost twenty years.
He has a degree in Modern World History from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University and is currently Head of History at the International School of Toulouse, France. On his free time, he delivers training courses to history teachers in the UK and Europe, writes regularly for the national and international press on historical and educational issues, and is a prominent figure in the educational community on Twitter – where he is one the most followed history teachers in the world.
In my previous post I wrote of the inspiration I gained from H.W. Brands’ book American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism 1865-1900; specifically how Brands discussion of the dueling natures of capitalism and democracy could lead to a solid classroom discussion in an 11th grade US History course.
This post is regarding another aspect of Brands’ thesis, something that Brands calls the ascendancy cycle in American history. What follows is far from a polished lesson, but instead the beginnings of an idea that hopefully will result in something beneficial for my students.
In the book, Brands claims that the competition between the forces of pure capitalism and pure democracy can be used to characterize the last 200 years of American history. This competition has resulted in the proponents of each of these founding principles consolidating power, furthering their beliefs, losing that power to the opposing group as they create policy furthering their agenda, so on and so forth. I believe that looking at US history through this lens provides students a concrete example of the ebbs and flows of American politics and how these elections can fundamentally alter the course of the nation. Continue reading Inspiration from American Colossus Part Two: The Ascendancy Cycle→
Encourage might be better, maybe stimulate. Jump start?
But it doesn’t really matter what word we decide on.
I think using some of the ideas that Sally Hogshead pushes can help increase the chances for grabbing and keeping the attention of our kids.
Sally wrote a book called Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation that came out several years ago. What she talks about in the book are the powerful strategies that are used to influence thinking and decision making. Fascinate is targeted at marketers and ad folks but the ideas seem to be exactly what stressed-out teachers are looking for.
Economists have always said that to get people to do something, you have to provide incentives.
So . . . imagine a middle school teacher trying to elicit engagement and excitement about the Compromise of 1850 with 13 year-olds. What to do? Sally has some suggestions . . . seven to be exact. She calls them triggers. A trigger is “a deeply-rooted means of arousing intense interest.”
Sally says it just a matter of picking, choosing and combining the right triggers and your kids will be eating out of your hand.