Doing History Through Inquiry: A Manifesto

This is how I would teach history, if that’s what I taught.  Here in Honor’s science-land, I’m removed from testing anxiety and the need to conform my instruction to fit such boxes.


This blog post has really changed the way I am thinking about my upcoming lessons. There are 2 things I’ve been grappling with this year: teaching analytical skills in my social studies classroom when there is so much information to get through, and utilizing daily essential questions with my students effectively (my department is pushing essential questions, and I’ve been using them, but I don’t think I was looking at them the right way until now.) This post kind of was my a-ha moment.

To be critical citizens, my students need to know that they need to “read” the New York Post differently from the USA Today, the New York Times differently from the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC differently from Fox News.  Moreover, they need to know to critically evaluate what they find through Google or YouTube.  And they don’t know this.  I recently asked my students to define the word “objectivity” in a discussion about journalism; only a small handful could.

I’m sure not many would disagree with me to this point.  The question is how: how do we do this in curriculum that emphasize breadth over depth? How do we do this in a world where a few extra snow days can destroy an AP US teacher’s year? How do we do is when New York teachers feel like they can’t talk about current events because of the Regents?

The answer in by teaching history through inquiry.

Stephen Lazar then goes on to give AWESOME examples of how he used history through inquiry in his own classroom (some of which I will steal, most likely). He also shares AWESOME resources I was not aware of, like World History for All of Us, which provides well planned units with tons of analysis/evaluation-based activities and primary sources.

I’m using World History For All of Us to rethink how I am going to teach the Columbian Exchange and the Enlightenment (or at least a lesson or two of it).

 You can read more about creating inquiry based lessons here. Even if you are not a social studies teacher, I encourage you to read the blog post; I don’t see how it cannot apply somehow in how you approach your subject.