BELOIT - Three area social studies teachers are headed to Harvard Business School to learn a new way of making history come alive for students.
Beloit Memorial High School's James Hoey and Matt Flynn and Clinton High School's Frank Crivello have been awarded an all-expense trip to Boston to participate in the workshop as part of the Harvard Case Method Project of Teaching History held Aug. 18-20.
The teachers were alerted of the opportunity by the Beloit Chapter of the League of Women Voters. In hopes of being selected, the teachers wrote an essay on why they thought it would be important to attend the workshop and had a phone interview. The three were thrilled with the news.
The upcoming workshop will incorporate case studies from Harvard Business School Professor David Moss's recent book: "Democracy: A Case Study." The workshop teaches educators on how to use real case studies of incidents in history to engage students and produce an increased interest in voting, political engagement and constructive debate. Although the case studies were first used in the business school, educators are using them more in liberal arts education as well.
Hoey said case studies place students in the decision making process which requires their engagement. In a history class, for example, they read complex text of a case in American democracy and then discuss possible actions.
"You put them in that time period so they can understand the historical context. They have to think critically, and the final point is to make a decision," Hoey said.
Hoey said it's a better way of getting students to retain the material than simply having them memorize dates and facts.
Examples are cases regarding the compromises which went into creating the U.S. Constitution, what to do about redistricting, how much money should be in politics and super PACs and the struggle for black voting rights to name a few.
Hoey said he's excited about the case method approach because it teaches students how to disagree and debate while still getting along.
"One of the biggest problems in politics today is politicians paint the other side as evil," Hoey said.
Flynn said the program is exactly what he was looking for as a social studies teacher.
"This program will focus on learning about Supreme Court cases throughout American history that have an impact on students' lives and will allow us to dig deep into the cases in a way that will help us make them more meaningful for our students," Flynn said. "Having programs like this is always a great investment in time, money, and resources because it gives us time to learn with other teachers and come away with new tools to enrich the learning experience for our students."
Crivello said Harvard Business School is famous for its case study programs and he is eager to learn more. He said the case studies are very open ended without right or wrong answers, which is an ideal challenge for advanced placement students.
This fall, Crivello will be starting his 20th year in Clinton, and continues to seek ways to engage students.