6 Tips on Teaching Social Studies in a Politically-Charged Era

I've been challenged by parents plenty of times in my career. However, one that often protrudes in my mind is a 12-page email I received 7 years ago. In teaching about the post-Civil War Reconstruction, I shared both the late Abraham Lincoln and Radical Republican plans for what the South would look like as the [...]

Teachers, National History Day Needs Your Help

This past week, the National History Day program announced that it lost one of its biggest benefactors. Though National History Day (NHD) doesn't announce the benefactor's name, it does reveal how much it's going to hurt the program -- a total net loss of $800,000, annually. If you don't know what the National History Day [...]

Yes, Failure IS An Option

We'd be hard pressed to find an innovation that has changed our modern living as much as the light bulb. When Thomas Edison and his employees experimented with methods to bring about an incandescent light, they finally arrived - almost by accident - on using a cardboard filament. After its success, he famously quipped "I [...]

Why Engaging Students with Politics is Worthwhile

One of my friends approached me last week while at church. Now an administrator, he was a teacher who taught at Dover High School at the height of the 'intelligent design' debate, where a school board wanted it taught instead of the theory of evolution. He taught biology, nonetheless. In initiating the conversation, he said, “I [...]

Distrust of Facts Highlights Need to Return to Primary Sources

"Get your facts first," quips satirist Mark Twain. "Then you can distort them as much as you please." These words were first put to print in an 1899 Rudyard Kipling interview of the timeless sage, but they could have just as easily been written yesterday. In an era where the news makers are jabbing back [...]