One expert says Iowa history will “come to life” for the state’s students because of new guidelines for social studies classes in Iowa schools. Tom Morain of Graceland University served on the advisory panel that recommended the changes. Morain recently told a group of third and fourth graders they’ll soon be exposed to a “whole new way” of learning about history.
“You’re not going to just read what other people tell you happened,” Morain said. “You’re going to get to ‘do’ history. You’re going to get to go to places where history happened. You’re going to get to read what people who were living those events really thought.”
Classroom time on history has been cut as teachers focus more on reading, math and science. Morain said students can develop critical thinking skills by comparing different versions of historical events. And Iowa has a rich history to review, according to Morain.
“The computer, what you hold in your hand, was invented here in Iowa,” Morain said, “and the story of how it was invented was an incredible story.”
Students are fascinated to learn about the place they call home, Morain said, and the new state guidelines will help promote Iowa history.
“What is exciting about history as we’re going to do it now is we’re going to make it come to life,” Morain said.
Morain is the former administrator of the State Historical Society and he once served as director of history at Living History Farms in Urbandale. A recent report found Iowa has been lagging other states in providing localized history resources for teachers. The states of Minnesota and Kansas, for example, have state-paid staff who work to develop course work on state history for all grade levels. There’s even a published Minnesota history textbook.
Governor Terry Branstad supports the new state curriculum for teaching Iowa history, but Branstad says the state budget is tight and there aren’t enough resources to hire more staff.