“It is never too late to give up your prejudices.”
–Henry David Thoreau, Walden
“Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman, Zorastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the Mystery, unique and not to be judged.”
This almost goes without saying, but people like it when they can relate to their environments and what they’re learning. Inclusive education can heighten student and even parent engagement and a good teacher should be trying to get to know their students and their students’ backgrounds anyways. I love incorporating things into the classroom that I know about students e.g. making reference to jokes or music they like or acknowledging their background. For example, if I know that many of my students are Muslim, I know not to bring any gelatin or Jello products as treats because they are not halal.
Whether this is accurate or not, whenever I think of a historian, I can’t help but think of a man or woman in a tweed suit, with big glasses poring carefully over yellowed documents in the backroom of some library or government office, using tweezers to turn the pages so as not to disrupt the integrity of the primary sources they’re investigating. However, thanks to an increasing amount of resources being put online and the increased knowledge of restoration and preservation of artifacts, you don’t need that PhD and tweed suit to investigate the past in a hands on way! Students, even students as young as primary grades can have encounters with the past through primary documents.
Primary documents are an interesting and fun way to make history come alive for students. Rather than reading about events that happened through a textbook (and thus a historian’s interpretation of that event), students can piece together for themselves what happened and even assess multiple resources about the same event to try to find “the truth” or at the very least figuring out what most likely happened.
“The frog does not drink up the pond in which it lives.”
Environmental education in the social studies is increasingly essential given recent developments in climate change research and the difficulty in distributing resources to an ever-growing global population. Students need to develop green habits that they can share with others and carry on into adulthood.