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National Council for History Education


Teachers attend a TIAH colloquium at the Kennedy Space Center Credit: Justin Jakovac

The National Council for History Education (NCHE) was founded in 1990 to implement the recommendations of the Bradley Commission on History in Schools.  The Bradley Commission was a group of historians and history educators whose work culminated in the development of History’s Habits of Mind. These habits stress the importance of primary source analysis, historical thinking skills, and collegial interactions between learners and instructors. 

NCHE was formed to organize those who support these approaches, including K-12 teachers, public and academic historians, educational administrators, university faculty, community leaders, museums, archives, libraries, and historical societies to ensure continuing excellence in history instruction and student learning.  Since its inception, NCHE has encouraged active dialogue among history educators of all types by:

  • Publishing History Matters!, a newsletter that NCHE has distributed monthly for 30 years, featuring deep content dives, content-specific strategies, editorials, and calls to action; and,
  • Coordinating annual conferences each spring, providing a venue for peer-to-peer interaction and learning specifically focused on history instructional methods, and fostering a community of practice among history teachers who support evidence-based instruction.

In 2016, the Library of Congress awarded NCHE a Teaching with Primary Sources grant to develop a series of teacher professional development colloquia called Technology and Innovation in American History (TIAH). NASA and the Kennedy Space Center, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and the United States Army are partners in this endeavor, which provides teachers with unique primary sources to enrich K-12 instruction.

With the TIAH colloquium series, NCHE seeks to improve the understanding of government’s role in shaping technology, promote interdisciplinary links between history and science, and develop teachers’ ability to engage students in evidence-based inquiry.  Students might have an intuitive understanding of the rapid progress of technology, but lack the contextual knowledge to consider its impact. Archival materials from NCHE’s three partner institutions, along with Library of Congress collections, help teachers guide students to a more complete understanding of technology’s role in America’s development. For example:

  • The Kennedy Space Center’s archives provide a rich backdrop through which to examine the implications of John F. Kennedy’s policy to land a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s;
  • Exploring the United States Patents and Trademark holdings enriches understanding of Library of Congress collections of inventors such as Samuel B. Morse and Alexander Graham Bell; and,
  • Army Heritage Education Center offers opportunities to examine the nature of the military’s impact on innovation, including, for instance, the development of interchangeable parts for weapons. 

By the end of its first year, the TIAH colloquia program had served more than 150 educators with on-site programs and webinars.  The response to this work has been overwhelmingly positive.  For example, one teacher reflected, “In all my years of teaching, I have never been in such an eye-opening, interesting, engaging, and overall amazing learning experience! … the V.I.P. visits and tour made it worth it and then some.”  More information about these programs and accompanying resources are at www.nche.net/tiahmainpage

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