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New Curricula Teach Deliberation through Historic Decisions

The team at the Kettering Foundation recently shared a fascinating post about a new, innovative set of tools they’re creating to help teachers teach history and deliberation in classrooms that we wanted to share. Kettering and the National Issues Forums Institute are rolling out a set of deliberative decision guides based on historic decisions that shaped US history, and they’re finding success using them in classrooms. Check out the Kettering post below about the project or find the original here.

kfLisa Strahley of SUNY Broome recently shared a video her college and a local middle school produced based on their experience using NIF’s Historic Decisions curricula in their classroom. Historic Decisions issue guides take important decisions from American history and frame them, not as stories of great men making decisions for the country, but in terms of the difficult choices citizens at the time were confronting.

The goal of these issue guides is to allow students to feel the difficulty and power of making such choices and to learn to look at current-day problems with the same lens and sense of agency.

KF program officer Randy Nielson noted, “This video provides a really nice illustration of what political learning looks like. It shows what the subjects of the learning are (the practices of choice making and the effects of making the practices deliberative) and also the feeling of it – the kids were excited, because they had come to a different way of seeing the past, but also because their sense of themselves as actors in a life of choices with other people had changed. They had learned a new way of interacting and they knew it and could feel it. And that self-consciousness was beautifully evident.”

The 1776: What Should We Do? and A New Land: What Kind of Government Should We Have? guides are both available in print or digitally on NIF’s website. Eight more historic issues are currently being framed as part of a research exchange led by KF program officer Joni Doherty.

You can find the original version of this Kettering Foundation blog post at www.kettering.org/blogs/historic-decisions-create-citizens-tomorrow.

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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