Rewriting History EducationGAMBIER, Ohio (December 15, 2004) A Kenyon program that has connected scores of high-school teachers and thousands of students with the histories of their communities will expand in scope, thanks to a $997,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Teaching American History program. The grant will fund a three-year project that aims to rewrite the way twentieth-century history is taught in public schools.
While secondary-school history classes are often based on textbooks and lectures, this program, created by Kenyon historians Peter Rutkoff and William B. Scott, will help history teachers in Cleveland, Ohio, introduce an experiential approach emphasizing fieldwork into their classrooms. This approach will frame a study of the twentieth-century migrations of Eastern European, Latino, and African-American groups to Cleveland. Rutkoff and Scott will work in conjunction with teachers from four high schools and junior high schools in Cleveland and with WVIZ, a Cleveland public-television station.
Participating schoolteachers will spend a week each summer at Kenyon, learning about the migration study and history theory. They will then complete a week of fieldwork in Cleveland neighborhoods that saw an influx of migration during the twentieth century. WVIZ will provide electronic and media resources to the teachers throughout the project. Armed with that background, the teachers will take those lessons, and the skills needed for successful field exploration, into the classroom. Students will learn how to compile histories of their own communities, families, and neighborhoods while studying the migrations that redefined them.
The program represents an expansion of the longtime Great Migration Project, also created by Rutkoff and Scott, which trained Cleveland teachers to use an experiential approach to explore African-American migration from the rural south to that city.