This past Wednesday the country marked the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was a day like many other , except for veterans, survivors, and military families. We’ve grown accustomed that these days are personal because reminds us of our own sacrifices and for others it’s another regular day. At supper, our 8 years old daughter suddenly announces she learned about Pearl Harbor Day in school that day. We were flabbergasted, since history has been missing from her curriculum in the previous years, but excited to hear all that she learned.
Bunnell Elementary school’s music teacher, Mr. Burgess acknowledges and appreciates the service and sacrifices of Veterans with a special tribute every year. The event deserves more interest and attention from local residents and school officials. Nowadays, very few schools recognize the spirit of these holidays, particularly in elementary schools. Memorial Day is not positive enough to teach in our classrooms, even though children of fallen soldiers attend our schools, field trips to museums or historical sites are too expensive, and not funded by school districts.
We shouldn’t be shocked that recent studies have shown that the historical knowledge of young Americans is less than most educators and citizens would like. History is absent from the elementary curriculum. While research evidence indicates that elementary-age children are incapable of thinking properly about history, this does not mean young children cannot learn historical events or use the lessons of history to explore important values and increase skills in studying, thinking, and communicating. It only suggests that teachers must observe the known limitations of their students in attempting to teach history. The objectives of history in the elementary school are to develop knowledge of the American heritage, recognize and place in historical context important persons of the past, and introduce and gradually build an understanding of time and chronology.
Ms.Walker carefully integrated a Pearl Harbor video with instruction and helped students understand and recognize the past. Ms. Walker transformed her computer class into a successful history class and an amazing dinner conversation.
Thank You, Ms. Walker and never give up incorporating history in your class.
References and Resources: Egan, Kieran. “Teaching History to Young Children.” PHI DELTA KAPPAN 63 (1982): 439-441. EJ 259 456., Eric Digest, Hallam, R. N. “Piaget and Thinking in History.” In M. Ballard, editor. NEW MOVEMENTS IN THE STUDY AND TEACHING OF HISTORY.