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The Art of Curation

As we approach the celebrations that mark the end of the calendar year, the internet is full of top 10 gifts/desserts/excursions/ways to avoid the holidays lists. My students follow a variety of social influencers, many of whom curate lists of products they recommend. Spotify provides users with curated options to expand a listeners musical palate. Netflix and YouTube curate "view next" options based on your viewing habits. The world of information is enormous and overwhelming and it is growing.

We see curated lists and collections in many places - social media, obviously, but also places like doctors offices, grocery stores, and even in academic settings. When you visit a museum or art gallery, a curator has pulled out the best pieces to showcase a collection, artist, or idea. Many academic articles provide readers with a list of additional resources for interested learners. Curation is all around us!

In a world where information is everywhere, curation is a skill students have to work to master. It is so much more than just research. The ability to curate a good list means the student researches and evaluates sources, keeps only the best, and presents them in a way that an audience could use them. One of the final project options for my semester-length Outschool classes is a curation project. I'm asking them to take one of our topics, and to curate a list of 6-8 resources that provide an in-depth look at the subject they have chosen to explore. They will present those resources as part of a slide show for the rest of the class. This gives them the chance to research something they are actually interested in, while at the same time asking them to whittle down options, and present the research in a way that others can benefit from. I look forward to seeing what they find! Hopefully, they will leave the class with more detailed knowledge of a subject they are curious about, and a skill that can be applied no matter where they go next.

And in the spirit of curation, here is my Top Five List of Resources for U.S. History Content (in no particular order):

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