By Courtney Talmoud, Adjunct Faculty
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. -George Santayana
When I was in 7th grade I had a teacher who used this quote to open the school year. When I became an educator, I understood what she meant. Teaching and learning History or Social Studies matters, it really matters! As a subject, history, tells a story of who we are and where we came from. By teaching history/social studies in our classrooms students can develop a deeper understanding of how nations developed and cultures came together. Today the teaching of history or social studies in our schools has been significantly reduced.
History/Social Studies is interesting, fun and mysterious. Whether we read about it, watch a movie or listen to old recordings, it puts pieces of the puzzle together. We read about challenges of the Great Depression or successes during the Revolutionary War. Throughout our past we have faced turbulent and joyful times. Teaching this to our children is our responsibility. We must never forget where we came from. Engaging our students in Primary and Secondary Resources will help them put the pieces together. Different forms of learning will be required from the student to make sense of it all. They will need to have an open mind, critical eye, sharp thinking skills and a passion to learn. Put these ingredients together and the skies the limit for our young historians.
How do we begin the study of History or Social Studies? Usually, it begins with a question, “Who, What, Where, When, Why”. All of these lead to research, reading, comprehension and deep discussion. “Why did the immigrants come to America?” Some came for a better life, religious freedom, or to join other family members and many more reasons. Questions like these make us think. We think about our own families. Who were the first to be American citizens? Where did they come from? Why did they leave? How did they get here? I could go on but let me tell you, that the teaching of history/social studies begins from within. Those questions are deeply rooted in each one of us; we must help our students want to learn about the answers.
History can come alive and be exciting. The best history/social studies classes are engaging. Students learn about the past while trying to understand the continuously changing present. Historical artifacts and documents can sometimes be overwhelming, confusing and even contradictory, but these challenges help the student think outside the box and look at the topic for a deeper meaning. A Historian is a storyteller, he or she tells a story of the past and expects us to remember it, cherish it and never forget it. When George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” He meant it and so do I!