History teachers in OUSD prepare all students to grapple with meaningful and controversial questions from history, think like historians when examining evidence, and take informed action in the digital age.
Even as the study of history implies looking backwards over one’s shoulder to the past, it is also intimately about the present and the future. The study of history matters to us right here and now because it is the way that we understand ourselves, other people, and the world in which we live. But to say that we “study history” is misleading. History is not a predefined narrative of past events that must be studied and memorized; it is rather an inquiry into the past. In fact, the etymology of the word “history” comes from the Greek word “historia,” which means a learning or knowing by inquiry. The knowledge that emerges from inquiry is not static; it constantly evolves as it competes with existing narratives. For students to study history, they should not be passive recipients of knowledge, but rather they should “construct historical knowledge… by evaluating and reconciling competing truth claims about the past” (Reisman, 2012). So, how do we support students to think and act like historians?
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