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Educators prepare to teach history as it's happening

Christina teacher
Posted at 6:03 PM, Aug 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 10:14:35-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As teachers around the region prepare to go back to school, they are figuring out how they will teach students about the historic events they're living through.

Christina Dismang teaches geography and economics at Northeast Middle School in Kansas City, Missouri. She is looking forward to starting her seventh year teaching.

Dismang plans on having conversations with her students this year about the pandemic. She'll encourage them to write down what they've experienced and what they think about everything that's happened.

"In 20 years from now they can look back and see what they witnessed, what they felt and whether they agreed with it or disagreed with it," Dismang said.

Dismang also plans to talk to students about separating fact from fiction online and on social media.

"Now we are in this media age of instant 24-hour news, 24-hour information, it’s how to break that down and understand your sources," Dismang said. "That is a conversation that we do have with the students."

Media literacy is an important topic at the college level, too.

David Farber, history professor at the University of Kansas said teaching information literacy is much different now than it was when he began teaching more than 30 years ago.

"I think teaching students how to evaluate what’s right in front of them in the way of information has become a vital part of civics, of history, of just basically being an educated citizen today," Farber said.

Farber plans to wrap the pandemic into a broader conversation about globalization with his students this year.

"One of the things it means is that people, services, products, and unfortunately viruses, suddenly move at a speed we're not familiar with," Farber said. "I think the pandemic helps us think about the pluses and minuses of globalization."

Rather than think of the pandemic as an unprecedented time, Farber wants his students to understand the world has faced crisis before.

"I want them to think about resiliency, this is the human predicament, and history helps us think about that," Farber said. "Things have been bad before, we get through them, sometimes we muddle through, but we get through."