In class today, a student asked how I chose what to teach and when. As background, this student was a mid-term transfer to the school and so had another American History teacher this year covering the same time period as me.
I've never been asked that before and it has me thinking...
What content is sacrosanct in
I want to get out of the way for the answers and so will not try to muddy the water but my response may be instructive. I acknowledged that there were some events I didn't cover in depth or at all in my class. One reason was many history teachers have all year to get to Reconstruction. I have a semester. I also have to cover Civics and Economics as stand alone sections and so Jacksonian Era gets short changed so does the War of 1812.
The other reason may be more controversial. I wondered out loud how important content is in the days of google and wikipedia. Now before the hackles get raised, I am not suggesting that open source content be the teacher, but the ready access to data changes the rules for me. Part of my job is to teach them facts, but part of my job is to teach them where and how to access and analyze facts they find out 'in the wild'. So the question becomes, what is essential in history. What people, events or ideas are so central, they have to be included?
Teacher-types and parent -types...what is on your list. As usual, please comment below. You don't have to join the blog but please give me your first name at the beginning or end of your comment. Don't be afraid to pass this blog post along to other teachers, parents and heavens forbid, students. I would really like to gather a list of the 'non-negotiables.'