In the latest addition to the FFH Video series, Mike Maxwell identifies six basic elements of history education that are a mystery to history teachers because the history-education profession has yet to acknowledge or define them. 16 minutes.
Could it be: a) history for understanding present-day issues, b) the history of human development through time, or c) recurring dynamics of history? What do you say? https://youtu.be/yYwG97Ng34c
The historically weird school year of 2020-21, with its closings, openings, online teaching, and masked crusaders is over and done with. Hopefully teachers are taking a well-deserved break before thinking too hard about the next school year.
We chose this pause between show times to bring back the Future-Focused History Blog from its pandemic hiatus. “Hello” old friends, and “Welcome” to the new folks who signed up to join us during the interregnum.
At this time, I would like to propose a significant modification to our terminology.
As you are likely aware, general principles of history constitute a central component of our conception of future-focused history teaching. However, it has become clear that many academic historians will remain reluctant to accept the idea that general principles can be derived from the subject matter of history. This is important because these are the people who teach history teachers.
Consequently, I have begun to emphasize an alternative term: recurring dynamics of history. No one can reasonably doubt that recurring dynamics of history exist. To do so would be to deny that deadly epidemics, discrimination against minority groups, and failed foreign invasions have occurred repeatedly over the course of human history.
More on this later, but for now, enjoy your summer.
To the followers of the Future-Focused History blog:
I promised to return in September (after the new school year was well underway) to discuss where we might go from here. First, I’m pleased to report that our ranks have more than doubled since my previous report: from 33 blog followers in August to 72 today, some of whom are eager to get to work on advancing the goal of future-focused history education.
Here are my thoughts about the role of this blog (and please consider sharing your thoughts in the comment section below…we’re all FFH pioneers here, and we’re in this together).
It seems to me that this blog has essentially two basic functions: education and advocacy. Perhaps most people who signed up to follow the FFH blog are intrigued by the idea of future-focused history schooling and are interested in keeping abreast of any new developments in the field; these people are tuning-in to the education function. Others—often veteran teachers—are so concerned about the state of history education that they are ready to begin taking action now. They are ready to undertake an advocacy function.
I’ve tried to serve the education function by writing a book, Future-Focused History Teaching: Restoring the Power of Historical Learning, and by starting this blog, which features informational articles about contemporary history schooling and the concept of future-focused history.
Of course, both of these efforts are forms of individual advocacy, but an effective advocacy movement will require forming an organization that can combine the efforts of many people working toward a common goal. Such an organization is welcome to have a home on this blog.
What about a name for this advocacy organization? The best name I have been able to come up with is “Future-Focused History Alliance.” This could be an alliance consisting not only of individuals, but also of sister organizations that likewise support a goal of useful historical learning. Are you comfortable with this name? Do you have other suggestions?
That’s probably enough business for us to cover in this post: Do we want to start an advocacy organization? If so, would “Future-Focused History Alliance” be a suitable name?
Please weigh in—your input matters. If there is little interest in forming an advocacy organization, I’ll probably drop the idea. If, on the other hand, we decide to pursue an advocacy function, next we can consider the forms this advocacy might take.
Best wishes, Mike
“We don’t study history in a way that we can apply it.” This was identified as “the biggest challenge we face in all the Western democracies,” by Jim Mattis, former commander of US military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and former Secretary of Defense, in an interview this morning on National Public Radio. https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/756976562/a-leaders-job-is-to-set-the-vision-retired-gen-mattis-says
Only a subtle revolution, perhaps, when looking at everyday classroom activity, but a radical revolution in terms of the intended purpose and outcome of that activity: knowledge useful in the future.
The Future-Focused History blog opened for business a week ago, and so far 33 people have signed up to follow the blog. If you received notice of this post, you are among the chosen few. We’re all newcomers here, and I am most pleased to be in your company.
I assume that most people who subscribed to this blog have some connection with history education, and many are probably practicing history teachers who are either busy preparing for the new school year or have already started to teach their new classes. You folks don’t need to add anything more to your plates just now, so I propose to leave you alone until September, and reconnect when things have settled down.
In the meantime, you might let your history colleagues know about the concept of Future-Focused History—and that you have signed up to follow the blog. If they show some interest, you could direct them to futurefocusedhistory.blog for more information.
I will use this time to explore ways to advance the goal of Future-Focused History education. I plan to share with you what I learned when we get back together in September. Revolutions have been known to begin with a small group of dedicated people. Thirty-three of us might be more than enough.
Pull up a chair, take a deep breath, and contemplate the future of history education. Will it have a clear and worthwhile purpose that people can understand, value, and support? Will it be useful to people’s lives? Will it still be around 25 years from now? If these are the kinds of questions that interest you, you’ve come to the right place.
LATEST: “Six Things Every History Teacher Needs to Know…But Isn’t Told.” Newest addition to the FFH Video series. click here
RECENT: Recurring Dynamics of History sample teaching module: “Democracy is Fragile: It Has Repeatedly Fallen to Authoritarian Rulers.” click here.
Future-Focused History is the commonsense idea that knowledge from the past can inform judgment in the future, an idea that goes back at least twenty-four centuries to the time of Thucydides in Greece and Sun Tzu in China.
Future-Focused History education calls on history teachers to take charge of history schooling and restore the power of historical learning.
To learn more, to follow this blog, or to join the cause, see the the menu at left—on smart phones the three bars at the top of the page. (Click on the small arrows to expand the menu.) Your comments and contributions are welcome here.