Teaching and Learning History - 053116

The History Corner


History Does the Heavy Lifting
Nate McAlister
Royal Valley Middle School
NCHE Board of Directors
Mayetta, KS

What is the role of the history teacher in the age of STEM, STEAM, and Standardized testing when so much emphasis is placed on ELA, math, and science? Where is history? What do the history teachers do? We are right there, doing what we have always done—the heavy lifting. We do the heavy lifting for all the other disciplines.

When students are reading complex text from the United States Constitution:
The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.

What class are they in? History.

When students are working with the three-tiers of vocabulary from the Magna Carta:
FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present [Tier 1] charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity [Tier 2], that the English Church [Tier 3] shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties [Tier 2] unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact [Tier 1] that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons [Tier 3], we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections…

What class are they in? History.

When students are calculating distances using a map of Lewis and Clark’s Expedition:

What class are they in? History.

When students are comparing percentages on a bar graph comparing and contrasting the North and South during the Civil War:

What class are they in? History.

When students are determining averages from a page out of the 1855 Kansas Territorial Census:

And when they are writing a five paragraph essay, developing a thesis, explaining a narrative, analyzing an argument, or compiling an annotated bibliography, what class are they in? Say it with me. History! Yes, history! The subject is buried within the ELA standards of the Common Core and is sidelined in many administrative and legislative discussions related to education, but history teachers are there, always there, doing the heavy lifting. We are in the classroom developing critical thinkers, creative writers, disciplined researchers, and strong citizens ready for the world.

So I propose a new acronym, one befitting our role as the bedrock of the education world: HDHL. History Does the Heavy Lifting! Say it loud. Say it proud. When a legislator asks you, “What do you do?” or when a reporter asks, “Where does history fit in?” you can tell them with confidence, History Does the Heavy Lifting.



About NCHE

The National Council for History Education promotes historical literacy by creating opportunities for teachers and students to benefit from more history, better taught.