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Renowned History educator Wineburg to address CSUEB’s 10th annual History Speaker program


Sam Wineburg (Photo: Stanford Univ.)

  • March 11, 2014

The study of history with the advent of the Internet will be the focus of the 10th Annual History Spring Speaker program sponsored by Cal State East Bay’s History Department and the College of Education and Allied Studies. The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28 in the University Library’s Biella Room on CSUEB’s Hayward campus, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd.

Sam Wineburg, professor of education for Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, will be speaking on “Historical Thinking and Civic Responsibility: What is Intelligence in a Digital Age?” Admission is free and the public is invited.

Wineburg, author of the highly regarded Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past (2001), is director of the unique doctoral program in History Education at Stanford.  

Wineburg’s History Education Group, according to CSUEB History Professor Dee Andrews, has innovated “Beyond the Bubble,” an online guide to K-12 Teachers for “moving beyond standard-style assessment to deep cognitive understanding of history.” He has created a whole new field of educational research, of fundamental importance to all instructors eager to advance students’ critical thinking skills.

As part of his presentation, the Stanford scholar will talk about the current threat to historical veracity that the digital age poses for students’ understanding of the past.

“Think the Civil War was about slavery? Think again,” Wineburg said. “According to the website for ‘Sons of Confederate Veterans,’ 60,000 African Americans suited up in the Confederate Grey (that is untrue). Who shot JFK? All anyone has to do is watch Oliver Stone’s YouTube video, right?

“Despite their moniker as ‘digital Natives,’ today’s young people often slip into unthinking use of the mass of data flooding over the Internet, and research shows that young people routinely associate a high placement in a Google search with high credibility," he said. Wineburg then asks, "how can teachers and college professors deal with these challenges in their own credible way?"

Andrews, organizer of the May 28 event, urges anyone interested in the future of learning to attend Wineburg’s talk.

“Professor Wineburg’s Historical Thinking book has been a run-away best seller for K-12 and university-level history teachers,” Andrews said. “It is the go-to book for those of us engaged in the work of conveying to students the magnificence, pain, and beauty of the past. It explains why we should care about any of this today and why we should we study the past.”

Andrews said Wineburg’s work will “help us develop the critical habits of mind to permit us to make sense of the present.”

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