Reimagining the Past/Changing the Present: Teachers Adapting History Curriculum for Cultural Encounters

by Richard Sawyer & Armando Laguardia - 2010

Background/Context: How students develop a capacity to examine and imagine the past impacts how they think about the present and imagine the future. This study contributes to research about teachers’ beliefs and practices about teaching United States history through cultural encounters and nontraditional historical narratives. Although there is a small but growing body of research concerning teachers’ beliefs and practices regarding historical thinking and inquiry, little research exists on teachers’ beliefs and practices about history teaching from a cultural encounters perspective.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The study examined teachers’ perspectives of a professional development effort designed to promote their students’ historical thinking within a cultural encounters curriculum. This curriculum emphasized the role of perspective and historical narrative. The research questions were: (1) What were the K–12 participants’ specific examples of lessons and units related to historical cultural encounters? (2) How did they conceptualize their teaching for historical cultural encounters? (3) How did they begin to reconceptualize their views about a cultural encounters history curriculum?

Research Design: The study used a qualitative design to examine perceptions of 21 K–12 teachers. A conceptual framework about history teacher thinking and reconceptualization informed the design. Three forms of data— surveys, individual interviews, and lesson plans—were collected about teachers’ perceptions of practice and their applications of those perceptions in their classrooms. The surveys were administered throughout the 3-year program cycle and at the final evening colloquium. Interviews were conducted with the 21 teachers approximately 3 months after the end of the project. Lesson plans that teachers constructed at different points in the professional development project were analyzed after its conclusion.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The teachers in this study were each situated differently in their perceptions of a cultural encounters approach to teaching history. Their conceptual frameworks toward history, grounded in their own professional knowledge and teaching expertise, were an important factor in how they reconceptualized their views of curriculum. In addition, their discussions of both intended and enacted teaching provided a forum within which to experiment and try to solve emergent challenges and dilemmas that grew from their perceived changes in their views of practice. As they examined, and in some cases began to teach history through, often-excluded historical stories and voices, they confronted in differing ways their own stories and narratives in relation to traditional U.S. history.

To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
Purchase this Article
Purchase Reimagining the Past/Changing the Present: Teachers Adapting History Curriculum for Cultural Encounters
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 8, 2010, p. 1993-2020 ID Number: 15889, Date Accessed: 4/10/2021 7:18:58 AM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review