Tag Archives: Reading Like a Historian

Teaching History Without Textbooks? Stanford Proves It’s Possible.

In 2008, Stanford University introduced “Reading Like a Historian,” a non-traditional history curriculum to five schools in the San Francisco Unified School District.  According to Sam Wineburg, who directs the Stanford History Education Group and has been a longtime proponent of revising the teaching of history, “We need to break the stranglehold of the textbook by introducing students to the variety of voices they encounter in the past through primary sources.”  It seems this new curriculum is doing that and more, as recently reported in Futurity:

There are no orderly rows of desks in Valerie Ziegler’s 11th-grade history class—students sit in groups of three or four at small tables around the room. There also is no lectern because there are no lectures. And perhaps most striking, there are no textbooks.

These students at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco learn about the Vietnam War, women’s suffrage, civil rights, the Great Depression, and other major events in U.S. history by analyzing journal writings, memoirs, speeches, songs, photographs, illustrations, and other documents of the era.

“I always tell my students they’re historians-in-training, so the work we do in here is that of a historian,” Ziegler says.

That sounds like fun, but does it have any impact? Continue reading