As Mandell and Malone state in Thinking Like a Historian: Rethinking History Instruction, “history is a discipline: a way of thinking that encourages students to analyze historical evidence, evaluate it, and then demonstrate their understand of that evidence.” In a society which sometimes uses history to advertise and to forward an agenda, developing historical thinking skills is crucial to forming future generations of citizens. I believe in challenging students to think deeply about the history with which they are engaged. Imparting a love of learning and critical thinking skills is deeply important to me because I believe that the study of the past helps individuals make sense of the present. In our ever more chaotic, stressful and polarized world, developing a clear understanding of the social, political and religious movements of the past enable us to understand our current circumstances.
My prior teaching experience has been impacted by Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory in which he posits that individuals have a distinct learning style, or multiple intelligence (MI) that, when employed by teachers, is particularly effective for student learning outcomes. It is through that lens that I’ve observed student’s engagement with each other and historical evidence during my teaching assistantship. The use of multimedia including films, images, music, and online interactive quizzes and confidential opinion polls give students the opportunity to practice interpretation and analysis in a non-judgmental setting. Group project work, oral history reports and role playing give students the opportunity to “do” history while engaging in formulating arguments and analyzing primary source material. Teaching students close reading techniques, how to dialogue with sources, analyze evidence and how to both formulate written and verbal arguments are important to me. Meaningful and frequent interactive assessments such as quizzes and opinion polls will be embedded into my classes so that I can evaluate student learning regularly.