Council calls for more focus on Iowa history

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After the Iowa History Advisory Council issued some recommendations to Iowa’s schools to focus more on Iowa history, CFHS history teachers agreed with the findings.

There are several states that focus on their states’ histories in their curriculum.

Social studies teacher Robert Schmidt, who also taught briefly in Oklahoma a few decades ago, said that students had to pass a test in state history, and that it was required.

He said he supports more focus on Iowa history, “both in government and history classes, a lot of kids who grow up and go to school in Iowa, stay here, so it’s important.”

Schmidt said there are two different actions that could be taken if Iowa did decide to teach kids more about Iowa history.

“You either add it as a class, or we would have to put benchmarks in the curriculum in order to incorporate Iowa history,” he said.

Schmidt said that Iowa history would be an interesting subject to teach and be a good add-on class for students who are interested in the subject.

“I think our economic history is important — our political history, also our experiences with Native Americans. I think those definitely would be very interesting.”

Social studies teacher Traci Lake also supports the idea of focusing on Iowa history.

“It would be great if we could spend more time teaching Iowa history alongside other content we currently cover,” she said. “The struggle that most teachers would acknowledge is the lack of time to cover what we are already expected to in a short amount of time”

Lake also stated her support for an elective Iowa history class, due to the lack of focus of it in the Iowa Core.

“There could be a class that covers Iowa history, but it would certainly be an elective option at this point since the Iowa Core puts little emphasis on specific content (like Iowa history) and more on themes and skills like conflict, economics, critical thinking, source analysis, etc.”

Changes for state standards could be on the way. Last week, the Iowa History Advisory Council released a draft of new K-12 Iowa Core standards that include Iowa history as one of the seven main themes for discussing world history from 1500 to present day.

Lake also made points about potentially using the course to tie in some geography.

“I think teaching an Iowa history class would be really interesting,” she said. “I took an Iowa geography class in college that I loved, and could see myself pulling some geographical themes into that course as well.”

Though Iowa’s three state universities all offer courses for exploring Iowa history, none of them have professorships focused solely on Iowa history. The Iowa History Advisory Council notes that many other states have professors focused exclusively on their states’ histories, and the council is recommending the same for Iowa’s state colleges and universities.

Answers to Quiz:

1. a) Formed by two separate rivers, the Big Sioux as well as the Missouri River on the west side, and the Mississippi on the east side. In fact, Iowa is frequently referred to as the “Land Between Two Rivers.”

2. c) Harper’s Ferry, Iowa. The fire tower is a highly elevated platform located in the Yellow River Forest.

3. c) Cornell College.  The liberal arts college was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, and was  founded in 1853.

4. a) Sabula, Iowa.  Located in Jackson County, Sabula’s population was 576 in the 2010 census. It’s a popular vacation spot for people who live in Iowa and Illinois.

5. b) Hobo. Since 1900, the town of Britt has been hosting the National Hobo Convention. Hobos travel from all across the nation in hopes to be crowned Hobo King or Queen.

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