American Historical Association: Training Teachers to Teach History in K-12: Introduction

In most universities and colleges that offer training for prospective K–12 teachers, courses in pedagogic methods are usually taught by experts in educational techniques and not by specialists in the subject that the teacher trainee ultimately expects to teach. It is being increasingly recognized, however, that focusing on the disciplinary perspectives unique to a subject when teaching pedagogic methodology courses confers invaluable benefits. In some colleges and universities, for instance, historians are now teaching such courses to prospective teachers planning to teach history in the secondary school. In some of these cases the instructor is a professor who earned a doctorate in history but then became involved with teacher preparation or collaborative programs with practicing teachers and is thus aware of pedagogic theory and practice. In other cases the instructor is a practicing or retired history teacher, usually someone who conducts other programs with the history department such as supervising student teachers. Indeed, in the great majority of cases a course on history education is linked to a partnership with a school or a school district.

In some cases the teaching methods course for prospective teachers of history is listed in the education school or department but is taught by a historian; in other cases the history department offers and staffs it but then also sends the instructor over to the school of education to serve as a supervisor of student teachers. Such joint participation in teacher preparation or in-service training dates back to the 1960s in some universities, but happily, it is becoming more common.

The syllabi of five such pedagogic methods courses taught by history professors, at institutions in Massachusetts, Illinois, Colorado, California, and Connecticut, are published here to serve as examples of what is being done and also to illustrate the productive relationships that can be forged between history and education faculty: