About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 6317-6322
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain

CONNECTING TANGIBLE HISTORIC RESOURCES TO INTANGIBLE HISTORICAL CONCEPTS IN THE CLASSROOM

R. Andonian

University of Georgia / El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail Association (CARTA) (UNITED STATES)
Teaching history in the classroom (at any level) can be a challenge. Most students enter a history class expecting to be bored, and hence the instructor must begin an uphill climb to capture the interest of the students. Similarly, when teaching history to visitors of historic sites, the guide often has an audience that includes a small portion who are interested and many others who are merely along with their relative of friend. Thus, the challenge here is similar too: to find a way to captivate the entire audience. In my four years of experience teaching history in the classroom and six years of experience teaching at historic sites, I have found my peers to be far more successful in the latter environment than the former. Why?

As historical interpreters, we are trained to inspire the audience in the short time we have with them, rather than trying to overload them with all the information we can possibly muster about the historic resource at hand. First, there simply is not enough time to discuss everything (much the same way an instructor feels when deciding what to cover in a course). Second, overwhelming the audience with the maximum amount of information tends to turn them off to the subject rather than exciting them about the topic (a common trap for classroom instructors). The key, as interpreters as taught, is to find a way to use the tangible historic resource to connect the audience to an intangible concept, thus provoking the audience into curiosity. This allows them not only to learn from the short time spent together, but more importantly to develop a curiosity about the subject that goes far beyond the moment of provocation.

The National Register of Historic Places (United States Department of Interior) recognizes five types of historic resources: districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects. Each of these tangible historic resources could be used in the history classroom to help students become fascinated about the topic and thus interested to learn about intangible historical concepts – and possibly inspired to explore more about the subject outside of the confines of the course. Each of these five types of historic resources are defined differently and specifically by the National Register, and each of them could be used in its own unique way at various identified stages of the course to incorporate these resources into the education objective of the course. This paper explores ways that the instructor can utilize this tactic at each stage of the course to provide a more complete education experience for students.

This paper attempts to overcome the challenge of teaching intangible historical concepts in the classroom by using tangible historic resources. I will draw upon my years of experience of educating people about history in different types of settings to build a bridge between the too often disconnected fields of academic history and public history. While collaboration between the disjoined fields would benefit both sides, this particular paper focuses on how elements of public history can enrich the academic history classroom.
@InProceedings{ANDONIAN2011CON,
author = {Andonian, R.},
title = {CONNECTING TANGIBLE HISTORIC RESOURCES TO INTANGIBLE HISTORICAL CONCEPTS IN THE CLASSROOM},
series = {4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-3324-4},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {6317-6322}}
TY - CONF
AU - R. Andonian
TI - CONNECTING TANGIBLE HISTORIC RESOURCES TO INTANGIBLE HISTORICAL CONCEPTS IN THE CLASSROOM
SN - 978-84-615-3324-4/2340-1095
PY - 2011
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2011
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2011 Proceedings
SP - 6317
EP - 6322
ER -
R. Andonian (2011) CONNECTING TANGIBLE HISTORIC RESOURCES TO INTANGIBLE HISTORICAL CONCEPTS IN THE CLASSROOM, ICERI2011 Proceedings, pp. 6317-6322.
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