The U.S. Department of Education, often criticized for focusing too narrowly on math and reading test scores, has awarded grants to 121 school districts to create professional development programs for history teachers on the use of primary sources, according to The Washington Post. The grants, given for three-year periods, range from $500,000 and $1 million.
In past years, schools have used the money to give teachers opportunities to study documents with university professors, visit museums and historical sites, and—a nice touch—read books by important historians.
According to the Post the grants are part of trend to expand teachers’—particularly elementary teachers’—historical knowledge and encourage them to move beyond textbooks in their lessons.
“Elementary teachers are generalists. And, as a result, they tend to stick with books,” said Alice Reilly, social studies coordinator for Fairfax County schools in Virginia. “We want kids to look at history like historians and ask, ‘Why would a historian consider one document versus another?’”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.