Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey
The history survey is changing. Everything about the course is changing—teachers, students, content, technologies—except for the survey’s traditional pedagogies, which are optimism and denial. Optimism—for an instructional design that equates teaching with mentioning. Denial—of a mountain of evidence making plain the inadequacies of such an approach. Teachers struggle against pedagogical inertia; students endure the old unreliables of “stand and deliver” and “lecture and discussion.” Knowing what we now know about how people learn, isn’t it time historians developed a distinctive pedagogy for surveys making use of history’s own cognitive “signature”?
This Web site introduces a model for an “uncoverage” survey: H132 “U.S. History: WWII to Present” course. It is far from a perfect survey. It hardly exhausts the possibilities for what a signature pedagogy could look like. But I offer it here for the review of my peers and for the purpose of stimulating more conversation about new goals and methods for history surveys.