History and Imagination

Reenactments for Elementary Social Studies

By (author) Ronald Vaughan Morris

Publication date:

08 March 2012

Length of book:

166 pages

Publisher

R&L Education

ISBN-13: 9781610482974

In History and Imagination, elementary school social studies teachers will learn how to help their students break down the walls of their schools, more personally engage with history, and define democratic citizenship. By collaborating together in meaningful investigations into the past and reenacting history, students will become experts who interpret their findings, teach their peers, and relate their experiences to those of older students, neighbors, parents, and grandparents. The byproduct of this collaborative, intergenerational learning is that schools become community learning centers, just like museums and libraries, where families can go together in order to find out more about the topics that interest them. There is an incredible value in the shared and lived experiences of reenacting the past, of meeting people from different places and times: an authority and reality that textbooks cannot rival. By engaging elementary social studies students in living history, whether in the classroom, after school, or in partnership with local historical institutions, teachers are guaranteed to impress upon the students a special, desired understanding of place and time.
Making history meaningful for contemporary students is a challenge that Morris (Ball State Univ.) feels can be met by providing students with opportunities to reenact historical events in a variety of ways. Citing specific examples of museum programs, summer camps, festivals, and historical reconstructions, Morris examines in detail what such programs offer and how they are run. He is also careful to align such programs with the social studies standards. Most of his examples are in Indiana, but that does not limit their usefulness because there are equivalents throughout the country. Morris convincingly points out that giving students an opportunity to make decisions and to ask questions in an intergenerational setting is a significant learning experience. He also points out some of what might go wrong and how to prevent those problems. The variety of options is one of the strengths of the book. Morris emphasizes the importance of debriefing students after the experience and the importance of not trivializing history by failing to recognize the conflicts that were a part of a developing country with people from different backgrounds. He advocates that students receive a multiperspective view of history. Summing Up: Recommended.