The Other Sides of History
This article outlines an experiential learning project with international students who visited St. Louis to investigate the Ferguson protests of 2014-2015. While students demonstrated increased engagement and depth of knowledge following their visit, they did not always grasp the nuances of historical and civic thinking that the trip was intended to teach. Such pedagogical challenges exemplify many of the obstacles facing instructors grappling with projects that address contemporary racism and its history. These include: mastering interdisciplinary scholarship; engaging in personal, classroom, and community reflection; negotiating gaps between scholarly knowledge and current media coverage; and accepting the enormity and complexity of an issue like racism. Such roadblocks can prove discouraging to history and civics instructors, even ones dedicated to open and thoughtful conversation about difficult issues. As a whole, civic thinking came no more naturally than historical thinking for students, and integrating the two required more attention and more aspects of experiential learning than many instructors assume. The article concludes by addressing how, despite such challenges, student learning ultimately justified the project.
Copyright (c) 2019 Flannery Burke
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