Publication Date

December 1, 1994

The National Center for History in the Schools (NCHS) recently released national standards for history. Published in three volumes, these standards are intended to identify important understandings and thinking skills that students should acquire about the history of the United States and the world for grades K–12, and the history of people, ordinary and extraordinary, who have contributed to the development of communities, states, nations, and the world for grades K–4.

These standards were developed through a national consensus-building process that involved over 30 major national organizations, including the AHA, which have a stake in history education in the schools. The first volume to be released, National Standards for United States History: Exploring the American Experience, is organized around 10 eras of American history, starting with “Three Worlds Meet,” which introduces students to the native peoples of the Americas, the peoples of West Africa, and European peoples before 1492. The document also incorporates the many forms of social history that have radically altered recent approaches to U.S. history.

The second volume, National Standards for World History: Exploring Paths to the Present, which is organized into eight eras, each of which is crafted to address the whole world, and not just a narrow part of it. This is intended to encourage students to ask broad and “searching” questions about the human past, to compare societies with one another in specific time periods, and to situate particular developments within a regional or global context.

The final volume, National Standards for History: Expanding Children's World in Time and Space, provides a resource for teachers seeking to develop and extend their social studies programs.

Veteran teachers from around the country assisted in developing numerous examples of teaching approaches, resources, and student achievement for each of the standards. These examples are intended to help teachers capture students' interest, bring history alive in the classroom, and engage students in the active learning of history.

The three history standards books can be ordered from the National Center for History in the Schools, UCLA, Suite 761, 10880 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024-4108.

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