History Conference

History Conference

 Freedom in Education at Annual History Conference

 

 

History Conference
NCSS 2024 Conference

The annual history conference by the National Council for Social Studies, NCSS, brings together educators, administrators, and professionals in social studies nationwide to share best practices, learn new strategies, and explore relevant curricula.

 

Freedom in Education was an exhibitor at the history conference promoting knowledge-rich k-12 social standards standards and curriculum.

 

This year, around 700 exhibitors, 5,100 attendees, and our partners – Civics Alliance, Encounter Books, Zachor Shoah, and The Tuttle Twins, joined us to promote knowledge-rich standards and curricula.

The National Council for Social Studies was founded in 1921 and is the largest professional association promoting social studies courses.  Their mission is “…. to advocate and build capacity for high-quality social studies by providing educators leadership, services, and support. Their vision is “A world in which all students are educated and inspired for lifelong inquiry and informed civic action.”

What is the primary purpose of Social Studies? According to the NCSS...

“The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.”

After the American Revolution, there was a need in America to ensure students were educated to be self-governing, independent-thinking citizens.

History dominated the social studies curriculum in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The progressive movement in America, led by John Dewey, significantly influenced the focus of social studies to ensure students were educated to be “good citizens” for the common good. The NCSS embraced this broader definition. America's concern should be with "who" defines what it means to be a good citizen and whether that aligns with creating self-governing citizens.

Like our founding fathers, numerous organizations at the Social Studies Conference 2023, including the Center for Self-Governance, The Jack Miller Center, The Woodson Center and the Foundation for Economics Education (FEE), The Dissident Project, the Center for Independent Thought, and the Core Knowledge Foundation, share the goal to enhance social studies standards by emphasizing fact-based knowledge, primary source documents, and empowering students to understand self-governance, civic engagement, and the risks of authoritarian rule.

History Conference
Zinn Education Project

Most exhibitors at the history conference, including the Zinn Education Project, focused on promoting educational trends and socially driven agendas, mainly related to social justice.

Sessions covered topics such as culturally relevant pedagogy, hidden racism in economics, engaging students in global issues, drag story hour, and book-banning conversations. Notably, Veronika Electronika, associated with the Zinn Education Project and NCSS, hosted a special event and spoke about queer resistance and challenging dehumanization and injustice. The NCSS has embraced a broader definition of social studies.

We attended an engaging session, “Identifying High-Quality Instruction Materials in Social Studies,” hosted by EdReports and the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The panel in this session included John Ballen with Core Knowledge Foundation. Mr. Ballen emphasized the importance of a content-rich curriculum, and Freedom in Education agrees with that position.history conference

There is a long-running debate over whether standards and associated curricula should focus on teaching skills or knowledge. Skills are fine if we are only concerned with creating human capital for the workforce. But most parents want education to impart knowledge so students graduate with discernment and wisdom to make good decisions and judgments.

The session “Teaching About Systemic Racism with Tulsa Race Massacre” highlighted a study performed on 6th grade Birmingham, Alabama students by Caroline C Sheffield (University of Louisville) and Jeremiah C. Clabough (University of Alabama) where the collected data on the students after having them read the book “Unspeakable.”

The focus of the study was to understand the impact of the books on their views on systemic racism. They share how the book includes pictures, primary sources, and historical “empathy.” With lesson-guided questions like “What caused the violence and devastation of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 to happen?” and objectives, such as “Students will complete a writing task that is supported with evidence, depicting the experiences of African Americans living in the Greenwood District before and after the massacre.”

The presenters shared that the book does not dive into the story’s deeper meaning but that it allowed them to phrase questions to ensure they got a particular student response, which seemed consistent with other sessions we attended.

It would be interesting to know if the parents of the students in the study were aware the intent was to trigger a particular response from their children on systemic racism.

history conference
Session Slide

Another session, “Radical Truth-Telling: Reckoning with Dr. King’s Legacy in Our Classrooms,” emphasized that Dr. Martin Luther King was more radical than what has been written in history books. The instructor states that MLK endorsed “Color Advance” instead of “Color Blindness” and noted that it was a myth that King and BLM would be at odds, as Malcolm X.

Next, the room of educators is asked: “Are your resources complicating the narrative or supporting a stereotype? Racism and white supremacy is in our schools.”

During the discussions, the comments we heard from the attendees, including many social studies teachers, were that we must stop promoting a victimhood narrative and that we need uplifting stories in the classroom.

History Conference

Mapping Controversy The NCSS session “Mapping Content Controversy in Education” focused on highly divisive topics.  Social Studies teachers were encouraged to write three controversial issues they experienced in the classroom in their geographical region.

History Conference
Teacher Feedback

Communication strategies were discussed to confront the pushback teachers might receive in the classroom from controversial topics and strategies to redefine the narrative. Then, they were given guidance on techniques to reframe history, promoting a toolkit from the American Association History of State and Local History.

Examples of issues provided by Social Studies teachers in the session were:

  • Book banning
  • Use of pronouns in instructional text
  • Creation of standards not grounded in fact/ politically motivated
  • Dress as a Pilgrim/Indian
  • Enslaved Field Day Reenactment
  • Enslaved Perspective Writing

One of the most concerning things we heard at the conference was in the session "Exploring LGBTQ+ History in a Diverse High School Classroom."  The session started by asking three questions:

  1. What is hard history?
  2. Why should we teach it?
  3. How should we teach it?

 

History Conference
Session Slide - Kinsey

The session facilitator stated, "Who we leave out of the narrative is sometimes more telling than who we include or how we address those people, events, or ideas. The invisibility of certain people, events, or ideas can cause students to feel minimized or to question the fullness of the history they are learning."  I am not sure if most parents would agree that sexual orientation has much to do with learning about the history of our country or how to be a self-governing citizen.  However, what was alarming in the session was the materials educators were encouraged to provide students with as background reading/homework to reinforce or challenge gender and sexual norms by assigning sources, including the Kinsey Report.    For those unfamiliar with it, the Kinsey Report is based on the research and controversial experiments of Dr. Alfred C Kinsey, who was considered a pioneer in sex research.  Some of the concerns with Kinsey's "research" are highlighted hereAt no point during the session was parental consent discussed.

Other sessions at the history conference we attended:

  • Using Graphic Novels to Explore Topics in Social Justice Education
  • Centering BIPOC Experiences Through Ethnic Studies and Interdisciplinary K-12 Instruction
  • Fostering Identity-Safe Classrooms in the Elementary Classroom
  • Teach Different: SEL, Critical Thinking, and Inquiry Through Classroom Discussions

The overwhelming presence and promotion of politicized content at the history conference confirms our concern with the social studies standards and curriculum that the NCSS has promoted and the results we have seen in our future citizens, leaders, entrepreneurs, and educators.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 40% of U.S. students scored below the “basic level” in history—only 13% of 8th-grade students achieved proficiency in US History and only 22% in Civics. School districts across the United States have deferred to these standards since the mid-90s. American students deserve better.  What is the solution?

History Conference
Civics Alliance
American Birthright Standards

Freedom in Education proudly promotes K-12 Social Studies Standards from Civics Alliance.   This is a non-politicized alternative to the NCSS K-12 Social Studies standards, which we believe will equip students with the knowledge needed to become more proficient in history and civics. The difference is that American Birthright Standards are knowledge-rich instead of vague, complex, and skills-based standards of the NCSS.

We were also honored to promote The Land of Hope from Encounter Books, which focuses on Western Civilization, the Holocaust, a Human Rights curriculum from Zachor Shoah, a logic curriculum from Memoria Press, and books that portray the good, true, and beautiful from Big Sky Life Books, Chicken Scratch Books, and The Tuttle Twins.History Conference

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were very well received by teachers wanting to learn about our solutions. Teachers across the United States signed up to learn more about our Teacher Coalition. Our Teacher Coalition will be helping review and create lesson plans to support the American Birthright K-12 Social Studies standards and other engaging initiatives.

History Conference
Holly Terei, Manager of Teacher Coalition

After this history conference, Freedom in Education is even more committed to our mission of pursuing solutions that build a strong foundation grounded in a virtuous education.  For our children to navigate this world, which for many includes K-12 public education, it will be imperative that they learn to think logically so they may have the intellect to discern what is good, true, and beautiful and what is being piled upon them like a heap of cow dung. As we learned, there is a social justice agenda being promoted by many in the field of social studies education.  We must push for honesty, integrity, and truth.

 

Freedom in Education impacted the 103rd annual History Conference with knowledge-rich solutions for social studies standards, and the curriculum proved to be in demand by social studies teachers attending the conference.

History Conference
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