Preservation Blackboard: How Are Your Bringing Preservation Into the Classroom?
By Paul LaRue
am a firm believer that preservation has a place not just in our country's historic towns and heritage areas, but in our classrooms as well. Whether you teach third grade or college-bound seniors, these places matter and our students should learn about and appreciate them.
My name is Paul LaRue, and I'm a teacher at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. In addition to economics, I teach a senior-level elective class that I developed in 1998 called Research History. Right off the bat, that might sound like your typical high school course, complete with textbooks, overhead projectors, book reports, and pop quizzes; I assure you it's not.
I like to bill my class as the ultimate in hands-on learning. We get out from under the florescent lights and into the field – our local community – for service learning projects that are all designed through the lens of preservation. In fact, my students and I are partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and PreservationNation.org last semester to share our experiences in preserving a nearby cemetery on our blog, Teaching Preservation.
Over the years, I have found that teaching preservation makes history so much more than words and pictures in a book. Lessons about local and national heritage make it real for my students – something they can touch and relate to. At the end of the day, these are the lessons that they will remember and carry with them long after they've forgotten the exact date of an important battle.
The good news is that you don't need an entire elective course like mine to integrate preservation into your lesson plans. All it takes is a slice of time and a healthy dose of creativity. And to get those juices flowing, we're opening up this forum to teachers for some ideas and tips to help you on your way.
It’s my hope that you’ll see that preservation has a natural place in every classroom.
Paul LaRue teaches at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. LaRue has developed many hands-on history projects in his Research History seminar.
What are your ideas for bringing preservation into the classroom?
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