top of page
  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

History: What do you know, and how do you know it?

Each year, half a million middle and high school students "examine primary and secondary sources," analyze a historical subject and "present their findings in papers, documentaries, performances, exhibits and websites, writes Alyssa Rosenberg in the Washington Post.

Founded in 1974 and modeled on science fairs, National History Day "aims to teach historical methods rather than a particular narrative," she writes.

Students are encouraged "to look at what makes sources valid or untrustworthy — essential in this moment of widespread misinformation."

"As they advance through local and state rounds, these young researchers get feedback from judges — usually teachers, historians, librarians and citizens — on how to broaden their exploration and sharpen their analysis."

"Many explore painful episodes and thorny questions of injustice," Rosenberg writes. One eighth-grader "interviewed a woman, Carolyn Maull, who at a similar age had survived the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963."

Rosenberg helped judge the finals in June.

National History Day also runs Sacrifice for Freedom, which encourages student-teacher teams to research World War II veterans from their states and write their eulogies.

History teacher Lauren Cella's humorous, slangy "Gen Z Teaches History" videos are a huge hit on social media, writes Nadia Tamez-Robledo on EdSurge.

"Her first viral hit was a Gen Z history lesson on the Russian Revolution, which gained 1 million views on Instagram and then another million views on TikTok," she writes. "Cella says that she chalked it up to luck, but then her next video on the French Revolution reached 2 million views."

135 views6 comments


Nov 05, 2023

National History Day has been AMAZING for my crew. They get to dig in deep on a topic of personal interest, present it, and be critiqued by adults who aren't their mother. While topics can be very specific, part of the rubric is about situating them within the larger sweep of history, so they DO learn general things as well. Kids can participate even if their school does not, so I highly recommend it to anyone with kids who enjoy researching things, like an extra challenge, and yearn to have actually knowledgable people tell them how to improve. It's like sports for nerds.


Nov 05, 2023

From an education POV, students should interview the elderly and then go back and see how accurate their recollections are compared to documentation from the time.


Nov 04, 2023

Commentary: annoying video is annoying.

They had to get in a dig to make it seem like the Americans mooching money off of the French somehow caused the revolution, when the King was really trying to stick it to Britain by financing the American Revolution. Even then, that didn't play a big part in the revolution.

This seems simple: read some books, people. Lots of books (especially ones written before modern political correctness took over). Get many perspectives, then form your own opinions. For example, I have about fifteen books on the history of the Middle East, from biblical times to the present. These include Arab and Muslim points of view, as well as Jewish and Western writings. You …

Nov 07, 2023
Replying to

Then please name a country that does not have public schools that the U.S. could use as a good example of how to improve education. The countries that perform better on international tests like the PISA all have a higher percentage of students in public schools.

And how will going through some form of rebuilding ever fix the S-curve or the demographics of the public schools.

bottom of page