Do your kids look at history like, well, um, ... kids? Do they assume that everything in history was inevitable? Do they assume that everything in history happened for a “logical, purposeful” reason?
Your kids aren’t alone. Plenty of adults also struggle with the idea that things in history were “meant to be”.
But not everything HAD to turn out the way it did and it’s useful for kids to put on their “Multiple Perspective Glasses” and see things through someone else’s eyes.
Here’s a strategy called “PMI” which is a way of looking at an issue from multiple viewpoints. It’s easy for us-in-2018 to look at history and see inevitability in how things turned out and think “of course things turned out that way! Was there ever a question?”
There were hundreds of questions in history that had many very real possibilities of turning out differently.
Instead of students believing in the inevitability of history, it’s important to look at history through the eyes of people at the time period and examining it the way they might have.
A great strategy for this is called “PMI”.
P= Plus (or positives)
M= Minus (or negatives)
I = Interesting
Pose an interesting question from history -- a “what if” or a “what would you do?” question like ...
- Should Truman drop the atomic bomb?
- What if Radical Republicans kept reconstruction going strong for another decade or two?
- What if Texas had remained an independent nation?
- What if the Founders had left slavery out of the Constitution entirely?
- Should the Cold War get “hot” and the US and USSR fight directly?
- What if Kenya had invested in infrastructure during decolonization?
- Should LBJ sign the Civil Rights Act of 1968?
- Should the Supreme Court be the best place to decide the 2000 presidential election?
Once you have a good, debatable, multiple perspective question, then you can ask the kids to tell you the positives of the situation, the negatives, and interesting points.
As with any new skill, I would model this the first time. Then, I would have students practice using it in groups. Finally, I would let them try it out on their own.
Download one from here https://lo.unisa.edu.au/mod/book/view.php?id=611321&chapterid=100451 and let me know how it goes!
Multiple perspectives isn’t just a “nice to know”. It’s crucial for our students as future voters, as internet users, and as participants in civic dialogue about everything from building new roads to gun control to race relations to balancing the budget. Every topic in the news requires the skill of multiple perspectives -- and so do our EOCs and Final Exams!
As always, try it and let me know how it goes!