Kentucky High School innovation:
New class brings history home to students
Ernest Walker wasn’t expecting much when he first walked into his ninth-grade civics class this year at Iroquois High School — boring textbooks, droning lectures and lots of memorization about historical dates and figures.
But the 15-year-old soon found himself debating about how genocide became state policy in a democratic country like Germany, what society was like leading up to the Holocaust and the civil-rights movement, and the importance of being a leader vs. a follower.
“The discussions we have are so interesting that you can’t help but participate,” he said. “It’s really a fun class; I’ve learned so much already.”
The course — Exploring Civics: Facing History and Ourselves — is a new offering this year for freshmen in Jefferson County Public Schools that has teachers and students raving about the hands-on lessons and discussions about tolerance, social justice and civic participation.
“Students are engaged in a social studies class in a way I have never seen them engaged before,” said Seth Pollitt, who has taught high school social studies for three years at Iroquois.
Superintendent Sheldon Berman, who pushed for the new class, calls it “the single best piece of curriculum that I know of because of its impact on students and its level of sophistication.”
James Dobson’s flacks:
“Tolerance” replaces civic history class in Jefferson County
A Courier-Journal article today announced that 9th graders in Jefferson County schools will be required to learn “tolerance” in the place of regular history and civics curriculum. While on its face the coverage of the holocaust in the course is important, questions remain about who gets to define what “tolerance” is for the students.