Junior Historians is an innovative approach to studying history. I don’t teach history, I teach students how to investigate history for themselves.
History can be cumbersome to young students because of the massive scope, complex issues, and our tendency to mythologize our past, particularly our major historical figures. Most US History courses struggle to get past World War II and thus leave students with an outdated view of our nation and the world. By choosing depth, not breadth, of coverage the Junior Historians curriculum unpacks the most important themes of US History up to present day. This fosters an understanding of the role of our shared past – our history – in our current lives. In fact, the Junior Historians’ logo communicates this ideal: a Venn diagram showing the intersection of a specific place and time. The Junior Historians curriculum finally answers the big “so what?” question of history: We study history because it informs the world we live in today and can be an invaluable tool in making decisions about our future.
Junior Historians started in 2011 when I was fed up with sub-standard history textbooks and a lack of student understanding and engagement. A life-long history nerd, I tossed out the textbook, developed my own two-year US History course, and compiled my own workbooks utilizing only primary sources. The result – Junior Historians – is a rigorous curriculum that challenges students to take ownership of history and to develop the critical skills of asking good questions, reading, writing, critical thinking, research, and argument by evidence.
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