Test Results Shock!
Reporter in Residence
Evenings are lonely at the Mansion, so I try to find ways to keep engaged.
Several weeks ago a headline in a newspaper left behind by a researcher caught my attention. "National History Test Results Aren't Too Hot" was not what I wanted to see. The article said only 9 percent of fourth graders could identify a photograph of Abraham Lincoln and give two reasons why he's important.
I, knowing the response of Monroe County teachers to MCHA workshop on NIE’s (Newspapers in Education) One-Stroke Lincoln project, found this difficult to believe.
You can imagine how upsetting this information was for me as a life-long resident of the Monroe County Historical Association’s Stroud Mansion. I hear some of our volunteers say that history is not given equal importance with subjects like math and reading in the schools today.
This concern warranted additional research. My computer skills are definitely improving, so I went to the computer to begin my investigation. I looked up some of the test questions and also the National Standards for the Social Studies.
I noted that the overview of National Council for the Social Studies Standards for learners in the early grades focused on developing critical thinking skills and understandings. Children begin to recognize that stories can be told in different ways, and that individuals may hold divergent views about events in the past. They learn to offer explanations for why views differ, and thus develop the ability to defend interpretations based on evidence from multiple sources.
I know that names, places, dates, and events are all a part of history, but without an understanding how they impacted the development of our country and its people, they are just that. Discovering how individuals played a role in developing our nation is critical to the education of our future citizens.
I love having student groups visit the Mansion. These young people are delightful and are always ready with intriguing questions. These visits engage students in authentic history that takes them beyond the classroom.
A family visit to the Stroud Mansion can be a great sharing experience for the entire family. The exhibits generate discussions — “I remember when…” conversations between adults and children.
The colonial kitchen allows a child to draw similarities and contrasts with food preparation then and now and, at the same time, addresses economic concepts: needs and wants, good and services.
The Civil War exhibit in the Victorian parlor connects local history with this critical time in our history. Viewing the items in the exhibit and realizing that all are connected to former Monroe residents definitely peaks a child’s interest in history. It is also an opportunity for children to realize that there are different views of events. A follow-up visit to a local library can provide children of all ages with books on all aspects of the war to nourish this new interest.
For a child who has experienced only a cell phone, the telephone exhibit in the Reading Room will be an identification mystery. What a marvelous opportunity for parents and grandparents to introduce children to how we used to communicate. I can hear a grandparent saying, “We used to have a party line.” Just think of the intergenerational conversation that this statement will start!
It has been a rather exhausting evening. I need to get a good night’s rest so I will be fresh in the morning for the day’s visitors here at the Stroud Mansion. I look forward to your family’s visit.