Washington Examiner: Americans Don’t Know Ike

Over at the Washington Examiner, Paul Bedard reports on the latest National research from the Driving Force Institute, focusing on how the average American doesn’t know Dwight Eisenhower was a general during World War II. Of course, today is Ike’s birthday.

The full article can be found here: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/washington-secrets/on-ikes-birthday-many-are-clueless-about-general-president

Happy reading!

DFI: Most Americans Still Can’t Pass U.S. Citizenship Test

Oct. 6, 2021 — During a time that saw an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the percentage of Americans who could pass the U.S. Citizenship Test is only 42%, but that still marks an increase of six points since advocates initially conducted the survey three years ago. The Driving Force Institute (DFI) says the fact that nearly 6 in 10 Americans could not pass a citizenship test highlights the urgent need for new approaches to teaching and learning American history. 

Only 17% know that the U.S. Constitution was written in 1787; a mere 27% correctly understand that Benjamin Franklin was a U.S. diplomat (36% thought he invented the lightbulb); and less than half (43%) know that Woodrow Wilson was president during World War I. 

The survey uses the same questions that those who apply for citizenship must answer; improved responses were seen in a number of areas. For instance, the percentage of Americans who know the United States fought Japan, Germany, and Italy in World War II has gone from 50% to 55% since 2018. 

The percentage of Americans who know that nine Justices serve on the U.S. Supreme Court increased from 43% to 51%.

People applying for citizenship must correctly answer 12 out of 20 questions on the test. Even though most survey takers failed the test, 63% said the test’s difficulty was “about right.” 

The DFI survey, conducted by Lincoln Park Strategies, has a margin of error of ±3.1 with a random sample of 1,000 American citizens.

Patrick Riccards, founder and chief executive officer of DFI, says, “We launched our initiative to make American history content interesting and relevant for today’s learners, especially females and people of color. The latest survey shows we’re not moving fast enough. Americans are rightfully proud of their country, but they risk losing what makes it special if more of us don’t understand and appreciate our history.” 

DFI’s UNTOLD series on YouTube is the home for short formvideos; it includes sections highlighting Black, Latino, and women’s history; DFI also makes related materials available to educators, whether in a traditional classroom, virtual or hybrid setting, including a comprehensive professional development series created in partnership with the Kentucky Valley Education Collective

Makematic and DoGoodery create and distribute the videos. DFI is also collaborating with the American Battlefield Trust, New York Historical Society, iCivics, Smithsonian, and others on the creation of specific video series for high school students. 

DFI uses an integrated set of efforts designed to get at the three legs of the history instruction stool:

Support instruction for current K–12 American history teachers, designed to both improve their own understanding of American history and empower them to better connect with their students and make history an exciting and worthwhile pursuit of study. As an incentive, teachers who successfully participate in DFI receive micro-credentials and badges that signify they are part of a national network committed to improving American history instruction.

Curriculum design for both traditional classrooms and out-of-school-time environments, 

changing the very way American history is taught in communities across the nation; and

Direct-to-consumer engagement, providing interesting and dynamic learning opportunities to students (and by extension,their families) through a digital platform.

To meet these needs, DFI launched a pilot project that recruitssmall teams of educators in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. This project helps shape the development of the website content, ensuring the most effective utilization possible.

Ultimately, DFI will seek to develop an online professional development platform, a series of “historians’ toolkits,” models for a “flipped” American history curriculum, and an archive of games and simulations for educators to use with students.

###

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: 

Stacey Finkel

Stacey.Finkel@ASPR.bz

703-304-1377

Librarians Love Us!

Time for a little not-so-humble brag. As readers know, dear ol’ Eduflack is incredibly proud of my work in transforming the teaching and Learning of American history. I believe this work is essential to both a stronger education snd a stronger society. It’s why I have spent so much time developing the Untold History initiative. And it’s why I launched the Driving Force Institute.

This week, the American Association of School Librarians announced its list of Top Digital Tools. This is an important list, particularly when we consider how just about anyone who is anyone in education was providing digital tools during the last Covid school year.

And Untold History was on that list! I am incredibly proud of what Makematic and I have been able to do here. And I am beyond honored that we have been able to partner with organizations such as the New York Historical Society, American Battlefield Trust, Kentucky Valley Educational Collective, iCivics, and many others to create these important digital tools.

Thank you to all of those who have made this work possible. We are having real impact as we dare mighty things.

Untold History, Right from the Student Lens

If the past few years (or even just months) have taught us anything, it is how important it is that we all know our history … and how boring and irrelevant history education can be for high school students today.

The Driving Force Institute launched its Untold History initiative to change that narrative. Untold has focused on making history interesting and relevant for today’s learners, telling the stories of those events, people, places, and artifacts that are essential, but often overlooked.

To supplement this work, this week we launch the Untold Pitch Competition. Over the past six months, we have been reaching out to students, asking them to develop their own videos on the moments in history that mean the most to them. Those submissions are now in, and we are sharing the finalists … seeking your vote for some of the top videos.

Check out the full competition here – https://makematic.com/blog/the-untold-pitch-competition/

Watch the videos! Share the Pitch! Cast your vote!

CRT and History Teaching

As state legislatures across the nation explore banning critical race theory from k-12 classrooms, it can be easy to turn away from the teaching of American history. After all, our nation’s history can be offensive to some.

In truth, American history is proud and dark, complex and contradictory, patriotic and problematic. In these times, that is all the more reason what we must embrace the teaching of history and ensure all understand both what has happened in our past and why.

I explore this important issue on the latest episode of Soul of Education over at the BAM! Radio Network. Give it a listen here – https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/how-do-you-teach-american-history-without-offending-anyone/.

Teaching in a Post-Insurrection World

Following the 2020 election and the riot on Capitol Hill on January 6, is it prudent to teach current events in today’s social studies classes? Or is it safer to stay away from the the realities of modern history?

Today, I spent nearly an hour with Larry Jacobs and the American Consortium for Equity in Education, discussing this and other topics related to improving the teaching and learning of American history.

Give it a listen here: https://ace-ed.org/teaching-history-and-civics-in-a-post-insurrection-world/

Happy listening!

We Don’t Need More Civic Ed

“But if we are going to learn – really learn – from recent civic activism and involvement, it is that civic education has spotlighted the glaring educational shortcomings that ensure that same education has lasting, meaningful impact in our communities. It has shown us the need to more deeply invest in the knowledge necessary to transform such action into long-term community action.”

Over at Project Forever Free, where I explore how the events of the last year demonstrate we don’t need additional civic education in the schools. Instead, we need history, SEL, literature, and liberal studies so that civic learning has real meaning.

Teaching Trump

The last few weeks of the Trump Administration will likely be how President Trump is remembered and how his legacy is taught in classrooms decades for now. Or so I opine on the final episode of the TrumpEd show on the BAM Radio Network.

Give it a listen over at: https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/opinion-teaching-the-legacy-of-the-trump-administration-its-complicated/

Learning from the 1776 Commission

As one of his first orders of business, President Joe Biden officially disbanded the 1776 Commission established by Donald Trump last year, killing the group days after it released its report on the founding of the United States of America.

Over at The 74 Million, dear ol’ Eduflack has an essay about the Commission’s report and what we can, and should, learn from it.

As I write:

“The American record — whether it be measured by the 402 years since 1619 or the 245 years since 1776 — is hopeful and ugly, inspiring and debilitating, a shining beacon and an unshakable dark cloud. More simply, American history is incredibly messy and contradictory; how we teach it even more so.”

The full piece is worth a read. You can find it here: https://www.the74million.org/article/riccards-the-1776-report-is-a-political-document-not-a-curriculum-but-it-has-something-to-teach-us/

Teaching The Capitol Riot

I was honored to be a part of this important panel discussion on the BAM Radio Network, as we discussed how educators can, should, must discuss the Capitol riot in their classrooms.

Dear ol’ Eduflack gets that many parents want to keep politics out of the classroom. And I understand that many teachers worry their administrators won’t have their backs on such controversial issues. But our kids don’t live in a bubble. They will learn of such ugly issues, whether we teach them or not.

Case in point. On the day of the siege, my 13-year-old daughter came into my office late in the afternoon, wanting me to explain what was happening. When I asked how she knew, she simply said the issue was blowing up her TikTok feed. Our kids know.

So give it a listen here. It’ll be worth the time — https://www.bamradionetwork.com/track/special-report-eight-educators-share-thoughts-on-discussing-sedition-in-the-classroom/