Today, I was assigned to read “The History Curriculum in 2023 by Mills Kelly. In it he argues that the future of history education should include Making (3D printing, video, ect), Marking (coding), Mining (data analytics) and Mashing (combining media). In many ways this curriculum reflects the concerns and philosophies of past history professionals.
From the beginning of the article, Kelly situates himself in century-old conversation of how to teach history: “I’m not a fan of those who simply predict doom without offering possible solutions.” This statement immediately reminded me of the silences offer by Beard and Becker at the end of their impassioned speeches about the faults of history education when it came time to offer redresses.
In his introduction Kelly writes, “Just to be clear from the outset, I am not going to propose what the content knowledge of that curriculum ought to be.” Which immediately reminded me of Orrill and Shapiro’s description of history education philosophy. For many years, particularly after WWII, content knowledge dominated the class room with procedural knowledge taking a back seat. Continuing into the 1990’s, content was to be standardized. Although historians generally resisted this, policy makers demanded that K-12 students know basic historic facts. Much in the mode of pre-standardization historians Kelly argues that content should be developed on the local level, in direct opposition to the current educational environment of ETS testing.
The crux of his argument, however, is not between content and procedure, but about what students need to navigate their world. This aligns with Becker’s “Everyman His Own Historian.” The job of history educators is not to fill their students with facts, but arm them with skills they need to navigate their lives. Although Becker’s arguments are far more esoteric, while Kelly is attempting to teach skills needed for placement in the American workforce of the future, Kelly is certainly an inheritor of this mentality.
Agreeing with all of the literature so far surveyed, Kelly believes that students do not want to be in history class. He draws a contrast between excitement in science and the boredom in history. His solution to this lethargy is increased engagement with the process of history, which has been a recurring theme in these readings. His solution builds off McClymer’s guidelines in “Teaching and Learning with New Media.” McClymer advises that teachers integrated the digital world into the classrooms and Kelly offers a method.
The problem with Kelly’s four M’s is that of assessment. He is not in conversation with Wineburg’s “Crazy for History.” I can imagine that, like Wineburg, Kelly does not support standardized testing as a profitable way of measuring ability. His solution, however pragmatic it might sound, does not address how he, or ETS, would assess historical ability. Although I agree that learning to code will serve students very well in the future market place, it won’t serve them in passing the SAT history exam.