What is time? Ah, a question that could evoke the never-ending discussion of countless theorists, academics and philosophers. What do we do with time though? How do we use it as a teaching tool? The most obvious answer, of course, is history. We use time to compare and contrast the continuity and change of societies, examine content and character of people of a given time or space, find causation and correlation between events in the past, and how they could impact and have consequences for the future. Essentially history and time is an analysis of what Sean, our awesome ESST 317 instructor, calls the “10 C’s”. So what does this look like in the social studies classroom?
Time is a tricky thing to approach, as is history. While some say that history is absolute, I think that, like anything, there are always multiple stories to an event. The interpretations of these stories is what makes history and social studies an interesting area of study, because it is our interpretation of the past that can influence our perception of the future. I think that the study of time and history can be really practical for students as it gives them some background about how we got here. It is by understanding the past that we can help our students perceive the future, and become actively involved in making change.
Timelines, of course, can be presented in many ways. Perhaps a traditional straight line timeline like you might see in a textbook, or maybe in a song like “The Ballad of Crowfoot“. We can also look at spiral timelines, especially from a sociology perspective of dialectics, or other methods that look at how time can repeat itself, and has connections across eras. These many variations of timelines can present many perspectives, and help students see ways that though time moves forward there is always a need to look back, to reflect, and to consider the past before rushing into the future. This is not only a key concept in teaching social studies or history, but also for teaching students about life skills and how to become engaged citizens in our society.
Of course, what would this post be without the song tie-in? Here it is, for your listening pleasure! …it has no real relation to this post, other than it’s about time. “About Time”…now there’s a good movie!