The Kosovo teach-in provides an opportunity to once more pitch a "top down"
approach to teaching history. The traditional "bottom up" approach to
teaching history leaves Balkan history almost completely untouched (as it
does 20th Century history). The Kosovo teach-in clearly demonstrates, to
those who love history, the importance of studying current events... how can
one understand today's events without knowing their historical background?
Linking historical events to today's events brings history alive and clearly
demonstrates to students "the uses of the past," both good and bad.
Our students have been studying Balkanization for three years now... they
routinely visit websites posted by all sides of the conflict. As
adolescents... they naturally understand the "trash talking," one-sided
nature of these sites... It reminds them of the daily feuds that take place
at any middle school. It is the realization that they can understand these
issues (they aren't impossibly boring mounds of facts after all) that wins
students over and makes them lifelong newspaper readers.
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