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How Current Events Classes Support Historical Understanding

I have encountered so many students who come into my classes hating history. They don't understand why they have to take it, and come to me thinking that we're going to spend all of our time memorizing dates and wars and the musings of dead men. That's not how we roll in my classes.

After years of teaching history and geography, I have developed what I think is a key part of proving to teens that understanding history is necessary. I incorporate a discussion of current news events in class almost every single day. This is about relevance. The fact is that basic historical information is available at our fingertips whenever we want it. But finding and understanding the connections between what is going on today and what happened in the past is critical, and takes history and geography education a step beyond the basics.

Some examples:

  • The study of European history in the 19th century is made more relevant by looking at the rising nationalism impacting the European Parliament elections earlier this month.

  • Exploring US history from the 20th century takes on greater meaning when students realize the same reasoning for involvement in both World War I and II was echoed in President Biden's support for Ukraine in 2022.

  • Exploring the mindset of the Iranian government today gives greater understanding to the Abassid Empire and its aftermath

  • Conflicts today in the Sahel are directly related to the history of colonialism in the region. Learning about the modern conflicts helps student to see the long range impact of decisions made 150+ years ago.

I love teaching history and geography, and I happily indulge in my love of finding the connections between past and present by offering 8 sections of Current Events in Context classes on Outschool. Summer is the perfect time to enroll students in these low-stress, low-commitment classes. Enrollment is on a weekly basis, so you can pause and return around camp or vacation schedules.

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