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Guidelines for teaching history OK’d

The debate on the causes of ignorance of history flared Thursday when the Nevada Council to Establish Academic Standards adopted new guidelines for history education.

Joe Enge, a former history teacher and Carson City school board member, protested that the new standards were too vague and favored a thematic, big ideas approach to history rather than teaching the subject chronologically.

The new approach to teaching students history, he said, was “like constructing a roof without any walls or a foundation. It just doesn’t work.”

Education officials responded that history education that emphasizes only memorization was shallow. “American education is often criticized for being a mile wide and an inch deep,” said Chris Cox, a consultant to the council.

History is too broad a subject not to be taught without some themes to organize the material, officials said.

The council unanimously approved the new standards after education officials assured members that the standards were the minimum guideline for what should be taught. School districts can develop their own curriculums.

The standards now go to the state Board of Education, which can approve them or ask the council for revisions.

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