I’ve always loved history. Some of my favorite memories are of looking through old photo albums with my grandparents and imagining what life was like for them when they were young. I can spend hours poring over collections of historical photographs and my podcasting selections have an obvious bias towards the past. I even spent the first year of college as a double major in history and art. But despite my personal affection for the subject, I wasn’t sure how to go about teaching it to others.
Many moons ago, I was an apprentice teacher at a small independent school in Cape Ann, MA. For half a year, I had the opportunity to work alongside a remarkable fifth-grade teacher who had – and still has – an uncanny ability to forge simplicity out of complexity. She shared with me an incredibly simple, but very powerful framework for teaching history that I have used in my classrooms ever since. I don’t know where it came from, or if it has a name, but I call it Three Questions and A Statement. Not a very catchy title, I know. But it goes something like this: