Damian Whitworth has an article entitled, Is History So Horrible? The website is from England so the arguments deal with a different educational system, but some of his arguments make sense here too. 1. History needs to be taken more seriously, that the emphasis on math, science, basket weaving, feeling good about yourself, etc has shoved history out of the elementary and middle schools, by the time students encounter history classes they don't have a solid basis for understanding. 2. It needs to be presented in an interesting manner 3. There needs to be hands on, field trip, real world instruction.
My only complaint with the article is that those talking about improving education think the panacea for improving education is more technology. Makes you wonder how Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Jesus, Confucius, and all the other great teachers over the centuries educated without smart boards, DVD players, and Sesame Street. The problem with technology is that it gets old very fast. In the 1950's there was a movie called Black Board Jungle. A teacher who had trouble getting his students to pay attention shows a cartoon with a 16mm projector, and miracle of miracles the kids are interested. By the 1960's all schools had 16mm projectors and many teachers only function was to turn them on and fix the film when it broke. By the 1980's all those old reel to reel films were transferred to video. In the 1990's it was computers. Today we have DVD players for movies and documentaries, computers to surf the web, power point presentations provided by the book publisher so you don't have to come up with your own lecture, and many other new gadgets. And for each of the new technologies ( all of which I gladly use) the students were interested in for about one or two years, and then it becomes routine and they shut down. Isn't it time we stopped treating students like a baby in the crib that has to be pacified with rattling car keys?
By the way I'd like to have a copy of the DVD on the battle of Hastings and a link to the video game.