Understanding Current Events Through Historical Perspective

A few days ago, I attended a program at Whitman HIgh School in Bethesda, Maryland.  The event was part of a series in a news literacy project and included a discussion by Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne and New York Times columnist David Brooks.  It was moderated by CNN’s Chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.

It was a fascinating discussion of current issues by a conservative and a liberal columnist.  They actually agreed on a few things!

But what I found most interesting was that for almost every question that Dionne addressed, he started by placing it into historical perspective.  In so doing, his answers were more clear and thoughtful and made one really think about what he was saying.  This, of course, is something we want students to learn, as those who participate in NHD do.  In the professional evaluation of NHD conducted by Rockman, et.al., NHD students out-performed their non-NHD peers in a variety of ways, including a self-assessment regarding their greater understanding of current issue because they learned to place such issues and events into historical context and perspective.

Connecting the dots of the past to the present will help young people grow into thoughtful voters and citizens.


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One response to “Understanding Current Events Through Historical Perspective

  1. Renee McClendon

    As an educator, I love this learning of perspective and context through NHD research & presentation studies. Since many of my students have a less-developed background in history, it is an even greater challenge for them. However, the rewards are multiplied in that they learn history ‘vertically and horizontally’. Thanks for today’s inspiration, Cathy!

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