kitchen table math, the sequel: Under the radar: NY Common Core history standards

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Under the radar: NY Common Core history standards

While I was sleeping, New York wrote and adopted new Common Core-aligned social science standards that appear to replace narrative history with "themes."

Thematic history isn't history. It's social studies. Which is not a discipline.

Social studies has no disciplinary standards, no body of knowledge, no research questions, no formal and agreed-upon method of evaluating evidence or determining what evidence is and is not. The only professors teaching social studies are education professors teaching students how to teach social studies.

If the Chalkboard story is correct, AP courses are now thematic as well.


froggiemama said...

Do you have a link to the "old" standards? Because what my kids did in history class from 2006 to the present looks pretty much like the standards I posted earlier. I am curious to see what the differences are. I guarantee you that my kids did NO European history of any sort in first through 8th grade.

Catherine Johnson said...

Your district probably didn't follow the standards.

Mine wasn't following them -- I found that out from a teacher.

There are no penalties for any of these things; NYSED doesn't send out inspectors.

I think these are the ones:

Ed's listed as a person who developed material in the appendices. I'll get him to explain that to me.

Yup...this has got to be them:

Beginning with grade six, each course in this series contributes to students’ learning of historical chronology. The course in grade six emphasizes the ancient world to A.D. 500. The grade seven course continues world history through medieval and early modern times, A.D. 500–1789. The grade eight course establishes the new American nation in the context of the European Enlightenment, with which the grade seven course just concluded, and emphasizes the years 1783–1914. The grade ten course emphasizes the modern world, 1789 to the present day. The grade eleven course emphasizes United States history in the twentieth century. This interplay between world and United States history helps students recognize the global context in which their nation’s history developed and allows teachers to illustrate events that were developing concurrently throughout the world.

Catherine Johnson said...

History is the study of change, and to teach history correctly you teach it as a historical narrative.

"Thematic" history isn't history precisely because it's thematic.

It's a bunch of themes that aren't studied as particular research questions by disciplinary specialists and thus become exercises in anachronism and presentism.

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm reading Edward Horton now .... Coleman and his lot are DBQ people.

The various real history professions endorsed the standards although they are apparently deeply disappointed in the results, so there we are.

Haven't read the whole thing yet, but basically history is going to be social studies:

History, the course that makes up 75% of the high school curriculum, was reduced within the "Framework" to one of four rubric categories beside Civics, Geography, and Economics. (p. 13) History as a discipline gets five pages. (pp. 45-49)

Catherine Johnson said...

Fabulous paragraph (will write a real post tomorrow):

We run into this problem when social studies educators have the final say on standards. Within the debate among social studies educators, the focus has been the tension between the inquiry approach and the content coverage approach. The inquiry folks dominated from the sixties to the mid eighties, when the content folks responded to the Bradley Commission Report. NCHE, AHA, and OAH have pretty much come down on the content side until now, but with Common Core and C3, the inquiry folks are making a well-funded comeback. (For an excellent summary of the debate see David Jenness, Making Sense of the Social Studies, 119-164).

Catherine Johnson said...

Ed was in the battle against constructivism, back when content was winning (in history).

ChemProf said...

I will say that a lot of this goes back a long, long time. My grandfather built army barracks at the beginning of WWII (he was the post engineer), and moved around a lot in 1941 when my Aunt was in 5th grade. She vividly remembered that everywhere they went, all year, her class were studying American History but were in the middle of a unit on Native Americans. So she got nothing but local Native American culture in her year of US history.

Karen W said...

A vision for social studies in Iowa (from an Iowa DE consultant) is "moving away from 'dates and dead people.'" Picture of the presentation slide at:

I majored in history and I am strongly in favor of well-written narrative history books (with both dates and dead people!). I find them engaging and my kids do too. Besides, I'm not sure how else students will have enough context to make sense of primary source documents without them.

froggiemama said...

OK, I asked my oldest what he did in social studies over time. He said they did Colonial history in 4th, and pioneers and grasslands in 5th. They did Mesopotamia through Rome in 6th, US history again in 7th, and US history again in 8th. The 7th and 8th grades were essentially repetitions of 4th and 5th. I don't get it. Why the repetition? It reminds me of the infamous spiral in math.

There is a big difference between a well written narrative history book, and a textbook.

froggiemama said...

Those old standards are very weak on non-European non-US history, by the way. I would think Asia in particular needs much more focus. Even back in my day, in the mists of time, we spent a huge amount of time on Southeast Asia and China in 7th grade. Though the teacher was a crazed John Bircher, the fact that she used maps intensively was very influential for me. You can't POSSIBLY understand East Asian history without the geography. In any case, I think my current district's history coverage is abysmal for understanding Asian and Middle Eastern history, but your old standards are no better.

Genevieve said...

In my part of Iowa, 6th and 7th grade is Global Studies, an issue based approach. I'm not even sure what that really means.
We decided to home school our older daughter for that class and language arts. Seemed the best choice as they also eliminated all advanced classes at the middle school level (with the exception of math).
I'm still not sure what my daughter was supposed to learn in social studies for her elementary school years. In fifth grade every one did a project on something related to the Revolution time period and the Civil War period. So now she knows a little bit about the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address. Besides this, I couldn't tell you what she learned in elementary school and I'm not sure she could either.

Hainish said...

I remember 7th and 8th grade U.S. history being repeats of 4th and 5th grades. Grade 6 was the lost year in which we went through motions of learning something geography-ish. I was sick of the repetition, but grades 4/5 were not well taught, so there was that.

Anonymous said...

You can actually incorporate the study of themes into a chronological approach to history. K12 has done a brilliant job of it with their history courses. But K12 also teaches world and American history three times, and this is the key to success. I am on the curriculum committee of a small private school and I'm constantly butting heads with the lead history teacher there (PhD in history) because he seems to think that the narrative/chronological approach will always result in students learning disconnected facts. I, on the other hand, think that the students need to have that narrative arc in their heads before they will be able to think about themes. In fact, in my opinion, if the narrative is the *only* thing they take away from their history studies at our school, we are doing well. Anyway, I think that this move to themes only is just a cop out as it takes *years* to do the narrative approach properly, and people don't seem to want to replace the "my community" and American Indian studies with real history (BTW, real history includes studying American Indians). The other problem is the belief that young children won't be able to understand history--I encounter this on the curriculum committee as well. I have the middle school teachers telling me that 6th graders won't be able to understand ancient history. Really?

John said...

I read the new description of the AP history course.See link below. A lot of emphasis on Native Americans, slavery and gender/social inequality. No mention of Lincoln, D-day or George Washington and the founding fathers and the US Constitution. Looking at the example exam at the back the historical speeches and documents mentioned are very obscure.

Catherine Johnson said...

The 'old standards' were written, in part, by a major Chinese historian.

Hainish said...

John, when I looked, I saw multiple mentions of Lincoln, Washington, and the Constitution. I didn't see D-Day, but IDK how important it is to mention it specifically in an outline of an AP History course.