Engaging with Morality and Ethics in History

Engaging with Morality and Ethics in History

By its very nature, history opens the door to questions about morality and ethics—questions about justice, about what is right and what is wrong; questions about how apply our understanding of the past to today and to the future. In their article, “Enriching Ethical Judgments in History Education,” authors Andrea Milligan, Lindsay Gibson, and Carla L. Peck explain that the majority of historians today view ethical judgments as a critical part of history teaching.

Lesson Planning to Support Students’ Argumentation Skills and Learning Outcomes

Lesson Planning to Support Students’ Argumentation Skills and Learning Outcomes

We want students to participate in class. We want students to share their ideas and opinions. We want students to be able to justify their viewpoints with credible supporting evidence. We want students to engage in meaningful argumentation. To help students do this, authors Antonia Larrain et al. find that it is not enough to simply have class discussions. The design of the lesson plan matters.

Teaching Social Studies in the Era of “Alternative Facts”

Teaching Social Studies in the Era of “Alternative Facts”

In his article, “Fake News, Alternative Facts, and Trump: Teaching Social Studies in a Post-Truth Era,” Wayne Journell paints a clear picture of how the current government leadership and the American media have together birthed the era of “fake news” and “alternative facts.” It is in this era that American citizens can willingly “disregard verifiable facts as fake simply because they contradict their agenda” or their own worldview (8). It is in this era that American citizens can turn to media outlets of their choice to hear news and ideas that only reinforce their own viewpoints. It is in this era that Social Studies teachers are needed more than ever. Journell remarks that “both political thinking and media literacy are skills that need to be taught and practiced over time” (10). While teacher training and education research will continue to address these topics, Journell offers some guidance for Social Studies teachers in the meantime.

What does “trustworthy evidence” mean to students?

What Does “Trustworthy Evidence” Mean to Students?

Facebook. Instagram. 24-hour news. Twitter. Gossip. Newspapers. School. Television. Today students are bombarded with information about the world. As accessing information becomes easier, the task of determining the accuracy of information becomes increasingly difficult. What is fact? What is misleading? What is trustworthy evidence?

In their paper, “Thinking Deeply, Thinking Emotionally: How High School Students Make Sense of Evidence” authors Rebecca Jacobsen et al. explain that teachers are “increasingly being asked to prepare students to both evaluate information critically and use evidence to construct arguments” (2). These education requirements are set in national education standards, including Common Core for English Language Arts, History/Social Science, and Technical Subjects, as well as in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (2). The authors note that in the NGSS, students “engage in arguments from evidence” starting in kindergarten (2).

Jacobsen et al. remark that for these education standards, it is assumed that students know what evidence is and that all students accept and use evidence is similar ways. Previous studies have shown that this is not always the case, however.

Controversial Topics and Limits on Teacher Free Speech

Controversial Topics and Limits on Teacher Free Speech

In their paper, “Broaching the subject: Developing law-based principles for teacher free speech in the classroom,” researchers Bruce Maxwell et al. explain that for many teachers, the decision to discuss controversial topics in class is both an important and fraught decision. On the one hand, engaging with controversial issues is crucial for the development of students’ critical thinking skills and allows them to demonstrate democratic values like tolerance, recognition of reasonable disagreement, and respectful political engagement. On the other hand, many teachers will avoid controversial political matters so not to create an uncomfortable classroom environment. There is a worry that students’ lack of maturity to handle some topics may result in insult or shouting matches; there is a worry that some students may voice socially unacceptable views that might upset other students; there is a worry that the teacher is unable to facilitate such heavy discussions; there is a worry that workplace sanctions will occur as a result of engaging with controversial topics (196-197).