Iowa teachers who haven’t done so for this school year may have to incorporate Iowa history in their classroom lessons soon. New state standards requiring Iowa history be taught at every grade level were approved by the Iowa Board of Education this spring.
“This will ensure that students across Iowa get wide exposure to Iowa history. School districts must implement these standards by 2020,” says Stephanie Wager, the social studies consultant in the Iowa Department of Education.
According to the new standards, “active, informed citizenship” and “civic competence” is based on an understanding of history.
“I can tell you that we are working hard to make sure Iowa students understand our state’s past and why it matters,” she says.
Iowa is among the last states to require state-specific historical information to be taught in its schools.
“The topic of Iowa history is not just one for those who care passionately about the subject. It should be important to all Iowans,” Wager says. “Knowing about your community and state provides incentive for Iowans to stay here in the state and improve their own communities.”
The State Historical Society has posted a new collection of more than 170 photos, recordings, letters and other documents online. Teachers are being encouraged to use the items in their history lessons.
“It’s so important to expose students to a wide variety of media and images and artifacts,” Wager says, “and to see how historians kind of use all of those things to put together the big picture of history.”
The script Iowa native Herbert Hoover used to deliver his inaugural address in 1929 is part of the collection. President Hoover’s handwritten notes are on the documents, along with water marks from the rain that fell the day he took the presidential oath of office. A $100,000 federal grant helped pay for posting these historical materials online. The items come from the Library of Congress and the State Historical Museum.