Understanding and Teaching Contemporary US History Since Reagan

This week's review offers a roadmap for teaching contemporary US history, providing instructors with tips to tackle recent divisive topics and engage students with primary sources.

Understanding and Teaching Contemporary US History Since Reagan

ed. by Kimber M. Quinney and Amy L. Sayward Wisconsin, 2022
280p bibl index, 9780299339500 $39.95

Understanding and Teaching Contemporary US History Since Reagan book cover.

This collection’s 15 chapters focus on topics from the last 40 years of US history, both within and beyond the US borders. Topical issues encompass African American voter suppression, LGBTQ mobilization, Supreme Court nominations, drug wars, and domestic terrorism. Beyond the borders, climate change, military and diplomatic foreign policy, and women’s rights take prominence. One well-structured lesson asks students to engage the scholarly debate over what happened at Waco in 1993. Another lesson maps out a potential classroom debate on education policy. A lesson on immigration highlights engaging graphic images and oral histories. The contributors confront the recent challenges to divisive concepts like critical race theory and the difficulties that the so-called culture wars impose on teaching the recent past, and they offer persuasive rationales for teaching those topics. The lesson plans provide historical context for and teach historical thinking skills with primary sources, most easily accessible online. Substantive questions provoke critical thinking, guiding teachers and students through graphic organizers, discussions, and additional activities. Authors identify specific student learning outcomes tied to standards but neglect to include useful rubrics. An excellent resource for secondary and undergraduate instructors and pre-service teachers in history and civics.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals.
: K. Gedge, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – History, Geography & Area Studies – North America
Choice Issue: Nov 2023

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