Educators Grapple with 'History Deficit' in N.H. Elementary Students

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tags: history education, education



Today, millions of Americans around the country are performing their civic duty at the voting booth. But here in New Hampshire, there’s growing concern that students aren’t learning enough about the historical foundations behind that tradition.

In the large, stately lobby of the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, a group of fourth graders is ushered up a set of marble stairs.

Peggy Halacy, a museum teacher with the Historical Society, captures their attention and begins motioning toward the artifacts that adorn the walls.

“Now I’d like you to look over here at the eagle. This is the actual, real eagle that was on top of the state house when it was built in 1818.”

These students, from McClelland Elementary School in Rochester, are on a field trip that fourth graders in New Hampshire have been going on since 1964. Each year, about 70 percent of all fourth graders in the state visit the Historical Society. For many schools this fieldtrip to the Historical Society is a capstone to a year’s worth of curriculum on New Hampshire state history.

But according to Elizabeth Dubrulle, Director of Education at the Historical Society, what used to be a capstone is becoming a substitute for a history education that she says students are no longer receiving in the classroom.

“We used to employ a very Socratic method with the kids. We would try keeping them engaged by asking a lot of questions, drawing on what they knew. We had to change that because we would ask questions and it would be crickets. They didn’t know. They weren’t getting the background.”

It’s a problem the Historical Society is dubbing the ‘history deficit.’ ...




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