MCOE Education Spotlight: Merced County students participate in 'History Day'

Thursday, March 24, 2022
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History took center stage in the North Valley this week. Landon Burke learned about History Day and its significance for students.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In ABC30's segment, Education Spotlight, Action News Anchor Landon Burke will talk with Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) officials about some of the biggest topics in education.

History took center stage in the North Valley this week. Landon Burke learned about History Day and its significance for students.

Landon: So, Dr. Tietjen, tell us a little bit about History Day.

Dr. Steve Tietjen: National History Day was started about 40 years ago and came to California about 38 years ago. It's a great event because it gets students to think about history differently than they might experience it in a typical history class from a history book. So the goal is to have students research a topic that they're interested in. This year's topic was "debate in diplomacy and history," so pretty wide open, and it gives students a chance to investigate events in history and processes in history, like the abolitionist movement, the suffragette movement, the Black Lives Matter movement. The other exciting part of History Day, of course, Landon, is the fact that when students succeed and do a great job here, they get to go into a state competition, where they get to refine their project, dig down into details deeper based on what the judges shared with them through our accounting process. They actually extend their learning. Each time they move on to the next level of competition, and there is a National History Day competition that happens back in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., area in the late spring. So we're hoping that our students that are going on to Sacramento have a great experience in Sacramento and continue to pursue their investigation of history long into their futures.

Landon: Now, the event that happened this past weekend, it was in person, right?

Steve: It was in person. Yes. We had an in-person event. We had projects from four different schools fromthree different school districts. The kids did a fabulous job. One of the features of History Day, it kind of introduced this feature of student competitions years and years ago as students have to be interviewed. It's not as though the students do a project sits on a table, and judges walk by. The students have to be there and explain their thinking and explain their research. Try to help the viewer understand why they came to the conclusions they did. Really so it's a little mini-lesson in becoming a historian. Because you know, each generation reviews events of the past and draws their own conclusions. And that's really what we're teaching kids to be their own historian, big into the facts and draw their own conclusions. It gives them a chance to really get connected to a piece of history or an episode in history that gets their attention and causes them to think more deeply about history and its role in forming our own future. Because that's really why we study history and when kids come to an idea or an event or a movement, and they learn more about it and they learn how it relates to their own experience today, they're hooked. There they will forever be a more informed, more educated person.