Introduction, and Teaching of History syllabus

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Hello All,

I’d like to say hello to the group. Lendol Calder directed me to the site, and I’m excited about it becoming an important forum for talking about our common pedagogical concerns.

I’m the director of the Teaching of History program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Housed in the history department, we prepare BA and MAT students to become middle and (mainly) high school teachers. We also serve as the main resource for teaching issues generally in the department. At the same time, I have an active research program outside the teaching of history and am currently working on a book about controversies over vaccination in American history.

Below I will include the syllabus for the Teaching of History course I’m currently doing for our MAT students. Any suggestions and criticisms will be greatly appreciated. I might well change course during the semester, and in any case next year’s students will greatly benefit!

With best wishes,

johnsto1 [at] uic [dot] edu


History 500 Robert Johnston
BSB 135 UH 930
Fall 2007 (o) 312-413-9164
Wed, 5-8 (h) 773-381-7285
Office Hours: W, 10-12, johnsto1 [at] uic [dot] edu
and gladly by appt.


  1. Professor Johnston,

    You might consider adding a reading selection by Richard “Rick” Shenkman, currently of History News Network (HNN) fame. His “Legends Lies and Cherished Myths” books (one on world and another on U.S. history) could complement your bibliography. … Otherwise, like M. Hooper above, where do I sign up?!


    Tim Lacy

  2. My thanks also to Robert Johnston for sharing his interesting syllabus. I noted a few enlightening suggestions for readings.

    I teach at similar course at Metropolitan State College in Denver and have wondered about a few issues that perhaps Professor Johnston or others might shed light on.

    First, as a supervisor of student teachers in history, I’m struck by the almost insurmountable leap our teacher candidates must make from their coursework with us and their own teaching in their own HS classrooms. I’m hoping to guide students through more critical reflections on the process and experiences of teaching history, especially in diverse, urban classrooms. A colleague in the Math Department pointed me in the direction of “Lesson Study” protocols. This process encourages teacher candidates to prepare, teach, debrief, refine, and re-teach specific lessons collaboratively. I’ve watched in his class as teacher candidates are thoughtfully and insightfully engaged in observing “teacher moves” and debating their effects on student learning. Has anyone had experience with a lesson study process in History? I’ve found lots of examples of its application in Math and Science, but it would seem promising for History teachers too.

    Second, I wondered if others had experiences in preparing future history teachers to address the varied levels of English literacy they will encounter in the HS history classroom? The exciting scholarship on history education over the last few years has stressed the importance of teaching students to work with primary students and developing a sense of historical literacy. But I see my teacher candidates struggling to engage English-language learners in their own classrooms as they de-center the textbook and present documents like the Emancipation Proclamation, for example, for critical reading and reflection.

    Todd Laugen

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