I came across this “Statement on Excellent Classroom Teaching of History” at the American Historical Association while reading the November 2013 issue of Perspectives on History. Doug Lemov recently posted about some common straw man criticism of history classrooms. I still don’t know the answer to his questions, but thought this was a great place to start if you wanted to know what a great history classroom looks, sounds, and feels like. The AMA describes the course content, historical thinking, classroom environment, and evaluation of student performance necessary in a successful history classroom. With respect to content, the Statement provides:
Historical facts should be treated, however, as the beginning rather than the final goal of historical study. Courses must explicitly present the analytical concepts characteristic of historical study. These concepts not only underlie the questions that historians ask of the past, they help historians organize evidence, evaluate its relation to other evidence, and determine the relative importance of different events in shaping the past–and the present. These concepts address sequence, change over time, cause and effect, the role of factors such as culture and technology in shaping the history of the period, and the importance of the insights of all major social and cultural groupings in the society being studied. A true examination of the past requires attention to the full range of human activities and institutions, including politics, society, culture, economy, intellectual trends, and international relations.