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Readers of Historically Speaking are certainly no strangers to practicing and reflecting upon “historical thinking”; witness the 2008 publication of several essays and interviews in the Historians in Conversation series, as well as explicit or implicit references to its nature and process in virtually all recent issues. Still, most academic historians, scholars, and authors of popular works of history rarely connect with what goes on in terms of historical thinking in K 12 classrooms in more than a casual usually parental way. To be sure, ongoing controversies such as those involving the Texas social studies standards, the role assigned to slavery in textbook accounts along with commemorations of the outbreak of the Civil War, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s recently issued report card for state standards for U.S. history, and the yearly polls every July 4th that suggest how poorly Americans understand their Revolution provoke a collective beating of breasts followed, in some circles, by ritual finger pointing at K 12 educators. Unfortunately, with the conspicuous exception of collaborative opportunities presented by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teaching American History Grants program, there is little constructive and sustained interaction between those who teach at the university or college level and those who prepare the very students we eventually encounter in our own classrooms. The essays by Fritz Fischer, Bruce Lesh, and Robert Bain each offer compelling reasons for why the larger historical community, if not the general public, should be paying much greater attention to issues involvingthe training and professional development of K 12 teachers, the effective instruction of U.S. history high school students, and the pedagogical challenges of teaching increasingly popular and state mandated courses in world history.

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Historically Speaking

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