National History Day Competitions Promote Study of History
National History Day, long recognized as an innovative teaching tool that bridges the gap between history and other social studies disciplines, literature, and the arts, reached further this year, linking the "two cultures"-as C. P. Snow described them-of the humanities and the sciences. The 1999 contest theme, "Science, Technology, Invention in History: Impact, Influence, Change," bridged the gap between history and the sciences. Students—working with teachers—expanded their scientific and technological literacy and historical knowledge. All the students who participated in the National History Day program were winners because they gained valuable insights and capabilities that will be beneficial throughout their lives.
National History Day 1999 had a record year with 2,045 students participating in the national contest and 2 million people involved in the program nationwide. This continued growth also showed in other areas of the NHD program. Often the focus of learning is concentrated on student and not teacher development, but National History Day is contributing to innovative history education by developing the skills of both teachers and students. In July teachers from across the country came to participate in National History Day's Summer Teacher Institute on the Civil War. "This institute has expanded my thinking," explained a participant. "I have searched for a way to reinvigorate history in the classroom and I have found it in National History Day!"
The outstanding success of National History Day also attracted extensive media coverage at this year's national contest and stories about NHD's impact on classroom curricula. The History Channel premiered Generation H: National History Day, a television show that chronicled the progress of four groups students from different parts of the country who were inspired to look beyond their textbooks and bring history to life. NHD also received attention throughout the year from print and electronic sources, including C-SPAN and the New York Times.
National History Day helps inform students where they come from as a people and as a nation, what happened in the past, and why. Young Americans will thus be able to enter the 21st century with the knowledge to evaluate social and scientific policies and to make informed decisions regarding the future of our society. Each year, more than 600,000 students in 48 states and the District of Columbia relate their original papers, exhibits, performances, and documentaries to that year's NHD theme. Over the last two decades, NHD has had an impact upon more than 11.5 million students who have gone on to careers in business, law, medicine, computer programming, and countless other disciplines. "After 12 years of participating with eighth grade students in National History Day," states teacher Barbara Allen of Denver, "I still say it's the greatest thing I can do with kids!"
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Attribution must provide author name, article title, Perspectives on History, date of publication, and a link to this page. This license applies only to the article, not to text or images used here by permission.
Please read our commenting and letters policy before submitting.