Teaching students about recent historical events becomes meaningful when the study includes debating history and making it relevant to daily life.
“I remember 9/11 because we had just moved here. I worked at Metroplex hospital and it was nearly impossible to get home that day,” she said. “I remember when the Challenger blew up, too, I was in elementary school.”
All those big moments became lesson plans for Cook, and her colleague Tara Cherizard of Ellison High School.
Both Cook and Cherizard teach advanced U.S. History. They recently attended a workshop together with professors to learn how to best teach American history from the 1970s to the 2000s.
Cherizard enjoyed speaking to experts who specialize in studying the time period in which she grew up.
“I lived through the fall of the Berlin Wall,” she said. “And at the end of the Cold War and how Russia is acting today, it’s scary understanding the bigger picture.”
Students in both teachers’ classes learn multiple points of view when they learn about historical events. “A good history class is when you’re arguing with each other,” Cherizard said. “Do you see everyone in a room agreeing on everything the president does today? No, there are lots of debates.”