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Michigan educators can learn how to teach comprehensive history

Webinars focus on topics involving race, racism, sexism


LANSING – The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is continuing to share information with educators this month about teaching comprehensive history.

Comprehensive history instruction involves teaching children about the full breadth of U.S. and world history, including race, racism, sexism, and other subjects that can be difficult and challenging.

This month, MDE is offering a three-part series on “The Art of History in African American Life and Culture” led by Jason Young, University of Michigan professor of history. The second of three parts is scheduled for today, Wednesday, March 20, from 4-5 p.m. and the third on Tuesday, March 26, from 4-5 p.m. The department launched its Comprehensive History Instruction work in April 2022. More webinars are planned in May, June, August, and September.

“As members of a diverse state, nation, and world, school staff and students need to know our rich, complex history,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael F. Rice “These powerful webinars, along with the provided resources, encourage Michigan educators and school leaders to deepen their knowledge so they may share with their students. As searing as some of our history is, we have a responsibility to teach it all. At the same time that we encourage educators to create and expand diverse libraries to children, we urge them to teach comprehensive history.”

This month’s series explores the crucial relationship between art and history in African American life and culture before, during, and after the Civil War. The presentations include how African Americans used art as a crucial medium for expressing urgent political and social ideas about race, slavery, and freedom. In addition, the presentations include ways that historians can use art as a source for teaching and learning about the past.

MDE identifies teaching comprehensive history as an important effort supporting Michigan’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan and provides teachers with opportunities to expand their knowledge to educate students.

This month’s webinar debuted March 6. Participants learned about the relationship between art and history in African American life and culture through the story of the Black Potters, potters in South Carolina who expressed their artistic creativity in the years surrounding the Civil War.

“The first part of this webinar series was a very powerful learning experience,” said Becky Sharkey, a social studies teacher at Broncho Virtual School in Oakland County’s Holly Area Schools. “The introduction to the Black Potters and their place and importance in history is significant in developing a broader understanding and perspective of African American history and experiences. I am sharing this additional perspective with my students as we learn about history in a more comprehensive fashion.”

Webinar content aligns with multiple grade levels of Michigan’s K-12 social studies standards, approved by Michigan’s State Board of Education in 2019. The Teaching Comprehensive History webinars can be helpful learning for educators in all roles and responsibilities.

Future topics include “Women’s Anti-Slavery Activism,” “Using Literacy to Enhance the Social Studies,” and “Civil Rights and Equal Rights.” More details about the webinars, including registration links, can be found in this MDE memo. More information is also available on MDE’s Teaching Comprehensive History website.

MDE is hosting the webinars in partnership with institutions of higher education, cultural centers, and the 12 federally recognized tribes of Michigan that form the Confederation of Michigan Tribal Education.

Organizations supportive of the comprehensive history instruction series include the following: the Michigan Council for the Social Studies, Michigan Council for History Education, Michigan Education Association, AFT Michigan, Michigan ASCD, Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association, Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators, Michigan Alliance for Student Opportunity, Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators, Michigan Association of School Librarians, Library of Michigan, Michigan Library Association, and Michigan Academic Library Association.


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