Curriculum & Resource Guides: Curriculum: Connecticut Standards
LEARNING STANDARDS
 
Although there are Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and for Mathematics that have been adopted by more than 40 states, no such official national standards exist for History or Civics. In order to make the Young American Heroes Curriculum Guides useful for as wide a range of educators as possible, YAH has consulted a number of recommendations for standards in these subject areas by organizations such as the National Council for History Education, the National Center for History in the Schools, the National Council for the Social Studies, and a number of state learning standards documents (see the example of Connecticut below).
 
Since individual states focus on different content at different grade levels and with different levels of specificity, we have endeavored to focus on the higher-level skills on which most recommended standards agree. Using these skills as a starting point, we believe that the YAH Curricula will provide educators with a good base to adapt and build upon to meet the specific learning results of their particular states. Individual state standards are, of course, the ultimate curriculum standards in the classroom. 
 
Most state standards will include some or all of the “History’s Habits of the Mind” recommendations made over 20 years ago by the Bradley Commission, and currently maintained and updated by the National Council for History in the Schools. They are:
 
  • Understand the significance of the past to their own lives, both private and public, and to their society.
  • Distinguish between the important and the inconsequential, to develop the “discriminating memory” needed for a discerning judgment in public and personal life.
  • Perceive past events and issues as they were experienced by people at the time, to develop historical empathy as opposed to present-mindedness.
  • Acquire at one and the same time a comprehension of diverse cultures and of shared humanity.
  • Understand how things happen and how things change, how human intentions matter, but also how their consequences are shaped by the means of carrying them out, in a tangle of purpose and process.
  • Comprehend the interplay of change and continuity, and avoid assuming that either is somehow more natural, or more to be expected, than the other.
  • Prepare to live with uncertainties and exasperating, even perilous, unfinished business, realizing that not all problems have solutions.
  • Grasp the complexity of historical causation, respect particularity, and avoid excessively abstract generalizations.
  • Appreciate the often tentative nature of judgments about the past, and thereby avoid the temptation to seize upon particular “lessons” of history as cures for present ills.
  • Recognize the importance of individuals who have made a difference in history, and the significance of personal character for both good and ill.
  • Appreciate the force of the nonrational, the irrational, and the accidental, in history and human affairs.
  • Understand the relationship between geography and history as a matrix of time and place and as context for events.
  • Read widely and critically in order to recognize the difference between fact and conjecture, between evidence and assertion, and thereby to frame useful questions.
 
Many state standards contain elements that include or parallel these recommendations. To take one example, the state of Connecticut includes the following in that state’s standards for the teaching of History:
 
Content Standard 1: Historical Thinking
Students will develop historical thinking skills, including chronological thinking and recognizing change over time; contextualizing, comprehending and analyzing historical literature; researching historical sources; understanding the concept of historical causation; understanding competing narratives and interpretation; and constructing narratives and interpretation.
 
  • Formulate historical questions based on primary and secondary sources, including documents, eyewitness accounts, letters and diaries, artifacts, real or simulated historical sites, charts, graphs, diagrams and written texts.
  • Gather information from multiple sources, including archives or electronic databases, to have experience with historical sources and to appreciate the need for multiple perspectives.
  • Distinguish between primary and secondary sources.
  • Interpret data in historical maps, photographs, art works and other artifacts.
  • Examine data to determine the adequacy and sufficiency of evidence, point of view, historical context, bias, distortion and propaganda, and to distinguish fact from opinion.
  • Analyze data in order to see persons and events in their historical context, understand causal factors and appreciate change over time.
  • Examine current concepts, issues, events and themes from historical perspectives and identify principal conflicting ideas between competing narratives or interpretations of historical events.
  • Develop written narratives and short interpretative essays, as well as other appropriate presentations from investigations of source materials.
 
As with everything else on the Young American Heroes web site, we welcome your comments and suggestions about the standards we have built each YAH Curriculum Guide upon. We particularly welcome additions or alternates to the YAH Curriculum that makes it more useful in meeting the Learning Results standards of particular states. If you would like to share any adaptations you make to the YAH Curriculum, or even share a completely new curriculum that you have designed that uses the young heroes concept, please Share Your Ideas.
 
For your reference:
Common Core State Standards Initiative -  (http://www.corestandards.org/)
National Council for History Education - http://www.nche.net/
National Center for History in the Schools - http://nchs.ucla.edu/
National Council for the Social Studies - http://www.socialstudies.org/
 

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