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East Side Community High School
History Team Mission Statement
As teachers and students ourselves, we are fascinated and excited about history, and we want to share and cultivate that excitement in our students.
We believe history is essential to understanding why things are the way they are today and how we—all of us—became who we are. We want our students to see that history is the story of their families and their culture—to recognize their own place in history and how history has shaped their lives; and we want students to understand how history provides a context for everything, how the past shapes where we are and where we go from here.
We believe that teaching history involves and fosters empathy. We want our students to recognize the universality of human experiences; we want them to connect the aspirations, oppression, and resistance of people across time and place to similar human experiences today; and we hope this understanding fosters tolerance, compassion and the initiative to recognize and stand up to injustice. We want our students to grasp that—for better and for worse—people make choices for a reason and to understand why those choices were made, not just their consequences; and we want them to make connections to their own lives and recognize that—like historical actors—their own choices matter.
As a member of the Facing History and Ourselves Partner Schools Network, we believe that teaching history is about teaching agency and civic engagement. By teaching our students to investigate how our world was constructed, we want them to see that it is also possible to break those constructions down. A lot of history is dark, but by showing students models of change makers and upstanders, we want them to realize that they can be change makers and upstanders too. We want our students’ understanding of history and public policy—both the ugly and the inspirational—to empower them to be engaged citizens with the tools and voice to question things around them and act to change them.
We believe that history is best taught as inquiry with the goal of developing critical thinking. We want our students to recognize that history is like an onion with many layers to peel; we want them to avoid the easy answers and to recognize the multiple explanations and nuances behind historical events. We want to engage our students with high interest units that develop their critical reading, thinking, analytical writing and debate skills—units that teach them to interpret and weigh a variety of historical perspectives and develop their own conclusions. In doing so, we hope they will learn to approach the world with awe and humility.