American History

The Urban Agenda curriculum can be used in American History classes.  The use of the model in an American History course provides a mechanism for teachers to further student understanding of historical societies and advances the thought process to include synthesis and evaluation surrounding long standing issues and concerns.  For instance, students can address an issue through the prism of historical events (including decisions making, economic, political, and social events) and investigate the processes that certain actors went through in order to come to their decisions.  Not only will students gain the rote knowledge of these events, but also gain a fuller understanding of their relation to history to the present.

History has been shaped by the civic involvement of its players.  Sometimes, history has been shaped by the lack of civic involvement.  Either scenario allows the American history teacher to use student-chosen issues to facilitate learning and discussion about American history.  Students can learn about specific events while gaining deeper insight into their issue and deeper understanding of their relationship to the rest of the world.

Some examples of issues applied to the study American History:

1. Late 19th and early 20th Century American history is marked by the rural to urban shift in America.  Often this shift allowed poor agricultural workers from the south to move north to seek employment in the manufacturing industry.  Students can look at the decline of growth in recent American history and can investigate the relationship between this subject and the issue of homelessness or poverty

2. There are many ways in which one could talk about diseases and the like.  For instance, in early American history, there were epidemics of small pox and typhoid fever that swept through whole cultures of Native Americans.  A student of early 20th Century American history could also look at the Polio epidemic and the government race to find a vaccine.  Similarly, the student of American history can look at the tremendous growth of disease in the last twenty years in America and the growth of the health care industry to prevent disease.

3. One issue that is central to American history since the Bill of Rights is that of gun control.  The student of American history can look at the changes guns caused on the American Plains with Native Americans as well as the horrific causalities of the Civil War as the technology advanced.  This issue, like most that students will begin to champion, has no problem finding its niche in an American history classroom.


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