For years, museums have wondered how to be more relevant and to embrace our identities as civic institutions. At a time when multiple pandemics and crises of governance face the country and the world, it is imperative that we do so, but how? The Educating for American Democracy roadmap provides a helpful set of tools to enter into conversation with school districts and civics practitioners, articulating what could be a common language of themes, design challenges, and inquiry, and this EdComversation introduces the EAD Roadmap and begins to explore how best to build on their work to achieve our civic goals. This presentation was hosted by American Alliance of Museums’ Education Professional Network (EdCom) on September 9, 2021.
Sarah Jencks: I am on the EdCom Educators Steering committee along with Stephanie Arduini who is right next to me who’s from American Civil War Museum. Stephanie is going to be our producer today, she’s going to monitor the chat and take care of all of the logistics. And I’m going to be conducting interview and doing an in-depth conversation today. I hope all of you will find ways to dive into as well. I’m here today because over the last two years, just like the rest of you, I have felt deeply that as a history museum and historic site in my case, but as museums generally, we have been struggling with how to be relevant. And then we are at the same time watching the desperate need to engage in what is happening in the world, to make connections. And to serve our communities, both local and national in better and more powerful ways. And one of the key things that we can do as educators is try to literally make sure that the young people who are coming up in the schools and in informal settings learning today know about how to sustain and improve our governance and our democracy.
So, as museums, we are struggling with how to do that work, and some people are already doing it really, really well. And a lot of the rest of us are trying to find those connections every day. However, at the same time, there is a lot of work happening by institutions that don’t even know that museums are doing this work. And they often refer to themselves as the civic space. There are organizations doing all kinds of democratic engagement work as well as civic learning work, and they’re getting a lot of money to do it. And I think, I believe, and I know a lot of you believe that we need to be breaking down silos with those organizations and making deeper connections to them. And I have with me today someone who can help us to think through some great ways to do that.
Over the last three years, a group of scholars from around the country along with educators and folks working in civic learning came together through some major government grants to develop a project called Educating for American Democracy. And that’s what we’re going to be hearing about today. And I hope that you all will have some useful things to say about that as well. And lots and lots of questions.
So, I want to introduce Ace Parsi. Ace is the senior director for outreach and dissemination for the educating for American Democracy Project. He works at iCivics, which some of you may have encountered in your own work as the home organization that is implementing the rollout of educating for American democracy. Now, before we start, I want to do a poll of all of you and you’re going to have to be patient with me because I think I know how to make this work, but I’m not 100% sure. So take a moment … This is going to be a pre and post-poll. I’m hoping we’re just going to launch one poll question right now. But if more than one comes up, just answer the first. Okay, there are two questions. So just answer the first question. We’re going to try this.
Speaker 2: You have to answer both.
Sarah Jencks: Oh, you have to answer both. Oh, great.
Speaker 2: It won’t let you submit otherwise.
Sarah Jencks: Yeah. This is the first time I’ve ever done this. And I’m learning with you all.
Ace Parsi: Growth mindsets. Yay for growth mindsets.
Sarah Jencks: If you work in an institution, does your museum currently identify as teaching civics? So 30% … I’m going to give you just a second or two more. I’m going to end the poll in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Okay. So looking at this first question, which is the one that I had most hoped you would answer. It says this is the beginning of this session. 34% of you already clearly feel that your institution is teaching civics. 45% say no, you’re not and 21% are not sure. My hope is that by the end of this session, many more of you will see how you can be teaching civics. So we’ll see how that goes. So Ace, with that information about your audience, I want to give you a chance to introduce yourself and tell a little bit about how you and I have come to work together, and what your project is all about. And then we’re going to start a conversation about how this project could potentially be a great jumping-off point for how museums can work together to advance civic learning.
Ace Parsi: Great, thanks so much Sarah and Steph. I am grateful to be here. I hadn’t thought about as much in terms of the partnerships with museums and historical sites prior to Sarah, Fernande, and some folks coming to me and providing these opportunities. And since that point, it’s totally blown my mind. So I’m hoping that … I noticed in that poll, some people were unsure and you’re just curious and that’s totally fine. Consider this a date. And hopefully, by the end of this, we’ll take the date to a different level. I am going to just share my screen so that I can just walk you all through a very brief presentation. So Educating for American Democracy, you can find this all at the website is educatingforamericandemocracy.org where you can find a roadmap and a report. And I’m going to just basically pretend that I’m in an elevator with you on the fifth Level, a slow elevator, but nevertheless an elevator.
I’m not going to give you the whole of everything. But I’m going to give you a quick scan just enough so that we can engage in conversation about this on what this EAD initiative is. So about a year and a half ago or so, maybe more at this point … Time is going fast in COVID times, the National Endowment for the Humanities and US Department of Education gave a grant and these were the organizations. So Sarah mentioned iCivics where I work, the Arizona State University School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, and the Safra Center, CIRCLE, and Tufts. We try to represent different ideological perspectives and the broader network of organizations and individuals including Smithsonian’s and others that were part. By the end of the process, there were over 300 individuals, students, educators, historians, museum experts, and others that were part of putting this roadmap together. So this was a great collective ideologically diverse work, and it almost made you feel throughout that process really patriotic, and also authentic.
Because one of the things that we want to do is build up muscle within youth to disagree productively. And I feel like that’s something that we did throughout this process. And the product isn’t something that any of us individually would have written, but it’s stronger for it. So what is it? And I’ll go into this and give you a little bit more of a sense of this in a bit. But the goals of this is one to create an inquiry framework for this. An inquiry for us is really important for two reasons. One is that from a political standpoint, genuine increase have conservative, progressive, moderate answers. And engaging in those inquiries, we can build the civic muscle for individuals to disagree factually.
It’s not just everybody’s opinion has the same word in that you can disagree with based on facts and build that capacity, but also disagree productively and still maintain a sense of civic friendship. It’s not a curriculum, there’s a lot of different resources ranging work from the Bill of Rights Institute, Facing History and Ourselves, and many others. Some of you have directly contributed resources into this work. So it’s not a curriculum, it’s not standards. But curricula standards can be aligned and supportive of this EAD roadmap. It’s a set of questions over facts, so it’s not about know this date that the French and Indian War happened but more about what was the purpose and what was the significance of this and engaging in conversation. And it highlights depth over breadth.
What we really want to do is help build the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for students to be able to engage in productive citizenship in our democracy. It’s an area that we know has not been getting attention. So you’ve seen statistics maybe out there that for every $50 our nation’s schooling spends on STEM, we spend five cents in civics and history, and we’re really reaping that investment. We need to really refocus on the fact that public education was forged to serve this civic purpose. Otherwise, we would just have private schools if it was just for economic benefit. And when we see the divisiveness and the susceptibility to fake news and insurrections, we know that we have a summit of outcome failure in our education system that we need to address proactively. So when I say depth over breath, one of those areas that I want to highlight is that … We highlighted these seven themes. Key to the roadmap is that it integrates civics and history together. I think part of it from an educational standpoint, civics without history is not informed. And history without civics is just good nonfiction.
So, the question is, how do these two things speak together across these themes? So theme of “Civic Participation”, how do individuals participate in civic life? Who does? Who doesn’t? How has that changed over time? “Changing Landscapes” is how the physical geography has changed and affected civic participation. “We the People” is who’s been incorporated into that political idea, we the people at different points in history. “New Government and Constitution” is the institutional mechanisms, how has it curtailed or enabled the rights of the we the people? “Institutional and Social Transformation” are the many different movements we consider rebounding in America.
So, the American Revolution, Civil War, women’s right to vote, the Civil Rights movement, all these things are considered just refoundings within our history as we define who we are as a people. I’ll say of “People in the World” theme particularly resonates with me as an immigrant from Iran, and noting that the democratic experience that we have in the US informed so much of what happens in other places around the world and other places experiences affect ours. And then people with “Contemporary Debates and Possibilities” is really that Hamilton line of what comes next, how do we continue to perfect that union.
Sarah Jencks: Wait. Ace, go back for a second. I want to throw out that what Ace has said about integrating history here, we as museum educators know and I have been pushing Ace and others have also and will continue to do that. To think about this in terms of science and in terms of art as well. We know that art is inherently political, and art can respond to any of these themes. An artistic practice can and with science, there’s so many ways that they are directly relevant to these themes. So keep that in mind as well, science and technology that this is … And also ELA exactly. I think we can push this framework to be even more meaningful and more broad, because of the kinds of thinking we do as museum educators. Keep goin.
Ace Parsi: That’s a really excellent point, Sarah. So just as an example, we’re working right now with the National Council for Teachers of English to create a companion resource, a roadmap of English teachers. Because we know part of this is literature. Media literacy and some of these skills are better than English, but part of this is literature as well. Same thing, when we think about the Principles of Inquiry, there’s no discipline that that’s more relevant in science. And we know that especially right now, a lot of youth are communicating their voices and engaging in this work through the arts. So obviously, we don’t want to lose sight of social studies in this. Social studies that I think in some ways home base, but this is also about the public visioning and implementation of education, and how education really is truly the civic purpose of schooling.
So, we are citizens not just because we’re social scientists, we can be citizens for any kind of profession. And so we want to really highlight those civic purposes. So thanks so much for noting that, Sarah. So the themes I think are … One area. When Sarah said that we can give common language, the themes are an area where questions – the inquiry-based questions that you’ll find in the roadmap – are. And one of the other areas that I think that really gives a opportunity for partnership are these Design Challenges. So the design challenges, we developed at the very beginning of this process because we knew that there’s broad agreement that civics and history are important but that’s where the agreement stops. That there are these tensions that make civics and history challenging. And rather than neglect them and try to brush them off to the side, we actually made them very explicit part of the roadmap.
So those tensions include: How do you motivate the agency of the individual while you sustain a collective republic? How do you tell a plural story of America, including the stories of individuals we have not shared traditionally in our history books, while still having that plural, shared story. How do you simultaneously celebrate the great achievements of compromise, but also critique those limitations that we’ve had throughout our history? How do you tell an honest telling of our story, including some of the things that we might be a little bit embarrassed by, without calling it cynicism? And how do we talk about some of the great things about America without falling into adulation? How do you balance the concrete and abstract together?
So, these are inherently real tensions that in a lot of your museum spaces, you hit these points incredibly well. I just think about this in a historical site standpoint. I went on a vacation just about a few weeks ago to Conner Prairie. And I walked through their specific prairie town in terms of how they were representing the Civil War and the decisions that people in Indiana were making at the time. These decisions were all there. And I frequented a lot of the different museums. I’m a history dork, and I see … When I’ve gone to many different museums, whether it’s Sports theater, Valley Forge or other places, you see these tensions. And the benefit of this is that we can give common language to it. So that if I’m an educator that can never make my way to Philadelphia to have my kids see the Constitution, I can still access that to virtual resources that the National Constitution Center might have, for example. So we can give a common language to this work. Sarah.
Sarah Jencks: And Ace, I’m going to interrupt you again and just say that to me, these challenges … The themes are powerful and useful for seven themes. The challenges actually articulate something that so many of us in the museum world deal with on a day-to-day basis, but maybe didn’t have the language for. And when we talk about trying to develop a common language that we can all use across our sites, to me these just are so rich with possibility. Keep going.
Ace Parsi: No. And I think it really raises the … Good exhibits and teaching, I think share a common future that they’re not indoctrinating you. They’re giving you that information and able to engage with that and the questions rather than trying to think of you as a receptacle that you fill as many facts. And then also the very human existence itself is complex. And so it’s not saying this is this or that, this dualistic thinking that we are people that we can embrace and live into that tension. And I think that’s what these design challenges are really about is that there’s a tension here, and that tension’s productive and that’s where a good learning can also happen is across these tensions.
So, within that, we also define some of the key aspects of a pedagogy. This is mainly thought about for classroom teachers, but I could see it absolutely applying to the work that you all do in the museum space. So that one is the excellence role, like how do we think about this as an equitable story? How do we engage students? I came from the disability field prior to joining this. How do we make this accessible and make sure that the histories of disabled individuals are incorporated into this work? So the stories and the access are really important. Part of this is that … What we hope to highlight in the inquiry and in the way that we approach this is that there’s not a destination here. We all can also engage in these questions as adults, and that this is an ongoing process. So how do we support a growth mindset approach on this?
That part of this is that students will absolutely … Both in schools and also when they come to your institutions, this will be a great experience for them as a first exposure to what democracy itself can look like. So how do we make sure that the spaces that we provide whether it’s in a classroom or in a museum or a historical site space reflects the culture that we want students to develop? Inquiry … Of course if there’s one thing that’s really key to all this is inquiry. It’s a fundamental thing that we want to really highlight through the EAD approach. How do we also empowerment? How do we support this sense of student agency and engaging this work? And then how do we continuously note that we’re not going to get to the promised land, we’re just going to continue to reflect how we’re doing. And so there’s still so much that we don’t know.
Sarah Jencks: I’m going to stop you again Ace. Go back to the other slide for a second. So what I think is worth noting here is that almost all of these things are things that are inherent to the work that we do in museum education. So we don’t even have to aspire in most cases to do these things, this is what we do every day. And that’s why museum learning in many ways is so brilliantly aligned with the EAD framework. And it’s my hope that we can find ways to really make it our own.
Ace Parsi: Yeah, absolutely. For most people, when they think about civics and history education, unfortunately, the thing that comes to mind is basically like a Ben Stein type in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” of somebody droning from a book. And so the more we can shift that narrative of conversation that this is a lie. It’s not like this dead thing that we’re just reading very passively, but actively engaging. Not only is that really good pedagogy and a good way for students to really own this information but it’s a natural way to take that learning outside the four walls of the school, and engage museums and historical sites. Because, again, it’s not going to take a big leap for most of you to see yourself, and some of those inquiries.
Maybe not everything, not every Design Challenge but a lot of them I would imagine that it would hit and that that provides a window and an opportunity for you to engage schoolchildren. Their families, I’m working right now on a piece that we’re calling EAD At Home. So for our families to be able to engage in conversation with their kids … And if I’m on vacation and I take my six-year-old… Well, she’ll be seven in a little while … to one of your sites that would love to just pick up one of these things and actually be in conversation. And know that that’s also contributing to her school experience. And so that’s this idea of breaking walls of how learning should look like I think is a big aspect of this. Sarah, you okay with me going to the questions? I’ll just pass it back to you, Sarah in terms of some of these questions … We brainstormed together.
Sarah Jencks: Thank you. So I want to throw these questions out to this group. First of all, there are three ways – And Ace, I don’t know if you want to jump ahead for a second to the next slide – there are a number of sites that are on this call today who have already decided to become champions of Educating for American Democracy. And they are varied but they’ve decided that they want to put their imprimatur on EAD and to adopt EAD in whatever ways they can. And you can see some of them here on the screen right now. And those people who are on the call, if you are already a champion or if you’ve decided there is some way that you’re interested in partnering … And there are some museums that aren’t on here also. I know Indiana History and the Arab American Museum are both also partners. If you’re interested… Conner Prairie].
Ace Parsi: And the Alabama Historical Museum, and the Autry Museum. There are a number of sites even here.
Sarah Jencks: And what I really would like to do is give a few folks who have already started working with EAD a chance to speak, just for a moment, and very informally about why they chose to become champions and what they’re beginning to get from it. This is all a new process. And I certainly know I’m sure others of you are in the same position that we have to go through our board to make the decision to do this. So it’s not a snap thing necessarily. But I would love to open this up for a second – we can go back to the other slide and start with this middle question. What have early adopters found helpful? And then we can move into that and I would love to hear from any of you of what could be the role of museums in this project, potentially? And how could we use it even more? How can this be a tool for us? And I’m pretty sure Steve Murray and Kelly Hallberg are on the call from Alabama Archives. I saw Sarah Wilson from the Autry, Emily Voss from Montpelier.
I’m trying to think who else I know is on here. Fernande from Got History. Annie Evans from the New American History Project. If I don’t name you, it’s just because I … Grace Leatherman, who’s the executive director of the National Council for History Education, which is a great way for us to connect directly with history teachers. I want to open this up – and Rebecca … Becky Coppola from Strawberry Bank. Would any of you be willing to just share for a moment What made you decide to become champions? And what are you hoping to get from being a champion and from getting involved? And don’t even feel like you have to raise your hand, just unmute yourself. And if you don’t have anything fancy to say, that’s fine too.
Fernande: I’m happy to quickly jump in. Fernande from Got History and The Learning Collaborative. What we’ve been doing is we’ve been working with museums and school districts to create learning experiences that empower and enable kids to do more project-based learning and experiential learning. And what we found tremendously helpful was to have in the EAD, a clear set of powerful, inquiry-based questions. So we did a workshop, for example with presidential libraries and teachers over the summer, trying to create amazing learning experiences that grapple with this idea of a changing nation and complex narratives. The We the People, but how has that shifted over time and the themes of migration… Using primary sources from the different archives. And it was fantastic to have the scaffolding of the EAD questions around that challenge, around the theme, to shape the lesson plan creation, the experience creation, to make sure that we were engaging the young people that will be the recipients of these learning experiences in questions that will develop them with their civic capacities.
So that’s just one example for how we did that. Another one was that we did … Just taking one of the design challenges and some of the more project-based oriented ideas and in the end, how do we make it agency creating? We designed some projects with museums in Kansas City, again, that were designed around helping young people have personal agency and creating exhibits, and creating oral history projects. Again, leveraging the models of the EAD. So it’s just great too, I guess when you’re building these learning experiences between museums and school districts, to have a safety blanket. That what you’re doing fits into a larger framework, and that it actually makes sense and will add up to something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
Sarah Jencks: I can add from Ford’s. This is something that hasn’t come to fruition yet, but that we are actually using these design challenges in some of our exhibit development thinking because they provide us with language to talk about major challenges that were facing the country in 1865, during the time when Lincoln was assassinated, and trying to get the country back on track. So even outside of a specifically exhibit or specifically education area when we’re talking more broadly about informal education. Sarah Wilson, I see you have your hand up.
Sarah Wilson: Yeah, I can talk about why it was just such a natural fit for us to become a champion. Way back in 2016 in our work with students and teachers, we were hearing teachers talk about their students feeling this apathy that here’s this big vote coming up. They couldn’t vote, they were too young, and that that was the only way that they could participate in civics and in government, in just the life of society. And we coupled that with what students were not learning in history. And they were learning a very prescriptive version of history that wasn’t jiving with what they were being taught or what they were hearing from government. “Everyone can vote, everyone matters” and that sort of thing. And so we began to … I’m so sick of the word pivot. That’s the word of the last 20 months, 20 years.
But we began to pivot in thinking about how can we build into all of our curriculum which talks about the American west history, past, present, and future, and building in the work of citizens. And for us, we don’t use citizen in the legal term. It’s not someone who has a particular piece of paper or a card or something like that. But for us, a citizen is someone who lives in their community, is concerned about their community, and works to improve their community. And so that actually allows us to expand who we talk about when we talk about the history of the American West. It allows us to make better connections with students in their contemporary lives. And so I think that made us really excited when EAD started to develop their platform. And that’s really exciting for us.
Sarah Jencks: Annie, go ahead.
Annie: Can y’all hear me okay? So I’m just going to reiterate a little bit what Fernande said because I felt very lucky to be able to work with her this summer. And the folks from Reimagining Migration and the presidential libraries. So we partnered with the Hoover Library. And that’s not a collaboration, where we’re not living in this digital Zoom world. I think one of the biggest things … We were a very early adopter of the Roadmap project. And to me, one of the greatest things has been the collaborations across museums and historic sites and groups like ours. We don’t have a brick-and-mortar building, we’re entirely a digital entity online with new American history. So Dr. Ayers and I were really excited, first of all, to see the way that this is moving towards more inquiry-based learning, and teaching a more full and complete and honest narrative of our nation’s past and integrating history and geography and all of the best parts of civics.
So, it’s very interdisciplinary, as Sarah pointed out and we keep reminding Ace of that. And I think he’s probably tired of saying that, but when someone mentioned earlier in the chat with the science part. So we have digital maps on redlining. But that also led to newer maps being created that hits that environmental justice piece. What we’re seeing with COVID, and why it hits certain communities harder than others, we can pull in data from places like the Science Museum of Virginia who are doing these heat islands studies. So that’s a way that we’re partnering with museums but because of the pandemic, since we were already all-digital, we were able to quickly push these things out to schools when they shut down last year.
And now we’re already having schools in Virginia that were open the first two weeks, shutting down again because of COVID numbers. But that new learning resource that we’ve worked on with the Hoover Library, a teacher already said, “I’m using that in a few weeks.” So all these things have been created in support of EAD are really coming in handy to K-16 teachers. Because schools are going to have this hybrid we’re open, we’re closed for a few more months, it looks like. And so you guys are really meeting a need in that respect.
Sarah Jencks: I want to throw out also this … Oh, Steve. Before I go, Steve, go ahead.
Steve Murray: Hi Sarah, thanks. I’m Steve Murray with the Alabama Department of Archives and History. We are Alabama State Archives and also the State History Museum. And EAD was a great fit for a major initiative we’ve had underway since the beginning of our state’s bicentennial in 2017, to do a major push on professional development for K-12 educators. With a heavy focus on primary sources in the classroom and integrating historic sites and local community history into classroom activities. And it’s a natural part of what we’ve been working toward and a great tool for that. But also wanted to mention, I was an early advocate of some of the national organizations like the Council of State Archivists and the American Association for State and Local History to sign on as champions. Because I think this is a point of focus in EAD that professional groups and the public history field and museum fields can rally around, as not just powerful methodology but an extremely powerful value statement.
And one of the things that drew me strongly to EAD … And I was watching the launch event back in March. Some of the language that’s developed including things like civil disagreement and civic friendship, these things that can be so powerful and are so badly needed in our society right now. That I think makes EAD a vehicle that we can take to leaders and stakeholders who are looking for solutions to say this is something that is crafted in a way that is nonpartisan, it is not a set of national standards. It is a model of points of inquiry and a civic values-centered platform that we can all buy into as something that doesn’t direct how any particular state or community or school system is going to teach any particular topic.
But it provides a basis on which we all should be able to agree about how we approach those difficult subjects. And there’s a tremendous groundswell. If you look at that list of champions on the website, it’s just extraordinary the range of organizations that have bought into this, which I think just underscores how effective the developers were in creating something that addresses our current need. And they were doing it in work that proceeded January 2021, when our …
Ace Parsi: Steve’s frozen on mine but I think I can fill the blank.
Sarah Jencks: Oh wait, we got you again. We got you back Steve. You froze for a minute.
Steve Murray: Sorry. My Internet’s unstable. Anyway, I’ll close there but just to say that I think we’ll see more collections, repositories really turn to this as something that provides a natural bridge to K-12 classrooms in their states and communities.
Sarah Jencks: Steve, thank you. I want to take what you said and take it to the next level in two ways. One is specifically to emphasize what you did that is the design challenges and also the themes but in particular to the design challenges. The idea of being able to look at these challenges that are at the heart of our country’s existence, and constantly have been the source of compromise and struggle throughout its whole, almost 250 years of existence. That is a powerful lens for us to say if this is a design challenge and not a fight or a disagreement, how does that change the way we look at and inquire about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going? And in fact, that relates directly to the third question that was up on this list.
And for those of you who are in science and art museums, you may not be as conscious of this but for those of us that history sites: in 2026, we will be commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. And that is going to be a big date, it is coming up more quickly than we think. Again, I’m just going to emphasize, how can we come together? How can we find funding to support this work? And I think by coming together, by creating communities of practice, and coalitions and I don’t mean the advocacy kind of coalition necessarily, we have the opportunity to make a real difference.
I know the American Association for State and Local History specifically has identified challenges that are very similar to these design challenges as being at the heart of their approach to commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Declaration. But we should all be thinking about how our cultural institutions can be preparing and this is a really prescient moment for us to take on these civic challenges, and make ourselves as relevant as possible, and be a part of the solution. And having said that, I actually want to turn over to … Yes, thank you so much for putting that up there, Steve. There’s a PDF on the AASLH website. Oh, you put the link, perfect. That is a very helpful document. And you’ll be amazed when you look at how closely it’s aligned to the design challenges.
Ace Parsi: Yeah. So I think every point that you guys mentioned is that there’s not one way to engage in this. So it’s not to say that if you don’t have curriculum, you can engage with us. Or if you don’t have specific sites or a physical space, you can engage with us. There’s a whole lot of different ways. So I think what Annie mentioned in terms of the inquiry process being able to connect with interdisciplinary through things like science. Annie, and believer I’m listening to you and I completely agree. I think that just the nature of inquiry allows for more interdisciplinary work. I think the language and the design challenges … Again, I love Sarah’s point in terms of that this is a different way to frame these things. It’s not us, it’s the problem. Design challenges are baked into our very creation.
And so to be able to give that language and to have different sites across the country dealing with different topics, leverage, they are still connected through these design challenges that are approaching them, I think is really powerful. And Steve’s point around how this might be different in terms of Alabama than it is in New York is an absolutely other thing. This is very adaptable, so you can make it adapted to the specific things that you have and in your local context, and the questions. And I also highlight Fernande, because I did not know Fernande and I didn’t know Sarah before this whole thing started but I am so glad. This is one of those things that you create a table and then there’s … You create a support group as a result. Some of my favorite collaborators are on this call right now. And there’s just a way that we can really … That coherence and sharing, helping students and the nation to engage in a common conversation is really, really powerful. I just want to thank you guys for providing this space.
Sarah Jencks: Ace, I want to go back for a second, we have about 15 minutes left, just less than that. And I want to go back to your slide deck for a moment, and look at the slide that identifies the three different … And there are three ways to engage, and there might be even more but there are three really concrete ways to engage with this work. Can you share that slide?
Ace Parsi: Yeah, so that’s this slide. So one way is, specifically, we have an ecosystem group right now, what we’re calling which is historical sites museums, and groups. And we’re trying to start this … Set up a process where we have groups of three, be able to be with peers, and run things that they’re doing related to the EAD roadmap off each other and continue to improve it. And that we can develop some collective learning that can inform all of our work. So if that’s something that is interesting to you, please … My email is right there, they’ll follow up with me. And I can incorporate you into that group. There are a number of organizations that we’ve already mentioned within here that are already EAD champions. If you like what you’ve heard or … We are past that curiosity place, and you want to really date us, we are really interested in dating you
So please just reach out to me if you’re interested in becoming an EAD champion and joining these groups. I think the benefits are really again, the be able to be part of a collective like this, to collect the thinking and be part of community with us as we find ways to move this forward. So other opportunities that I see coming up in the pike is that we have … The National Education Association and the American Federation teachers are also EAD champions. So are the National Associations of Elementary School Principals, Middle School Principals, and High School Principals. And we haven’t really pushed them so hard yet because we want to be able to when we do reach them in this really busy time, come to them and give them ways that they can engage and they can use resources.
The things that you all have are perfect things that we can just offer to them. So becoming an EAD champion I think would have those sorts of benefits. And then a lot of you have resources that you already have. You don’t have to create a new EAD resource. I mean, maybe long term you can do that and that’s great and that’s welcome. But I bet you if you look at those driving questions, those design challenges, the themes, you will find things that you already have that you can adapt to this. And that we can share broadly with as many educators as possible. So if you have things that you want to submit, there’s a link there in terms of resources, and I’m sure this will all go on by email as well.
Sarah Jencks: And just to add to that, I am a huge advocate of not creating new content. I would bet almost everyone on this call has content that already fits into these frameworks. And they’re just new ways to share them, and new ways to think about the work that we all do together. I also want to say that Fernande and I are working informally together to try to create some additional workshop opportunities to try to develop more professional learning experiences and opportunities for those who are interested in using EAD as a framework.
I also would hope that if we come together to continue to do this work, that maybe Ace will think that we could go and share it with some of these other groups at their conferences, and be able to expand our own outreach. I mean, that’s the beauty of this kind of collaboration. And in fact, someone who’s on the call right now, and I’m going to call her out for a second is Grace Leatherman. And Grace, I don’t know if you would be willing to speak just really briefly about your work and how those of us who are on the call and especially as we think about integrating EAD, might partner with you.
Grace Leatherman: I can’t see myself so I don’t know if I’m here. But it’s good to see you all. The National Council of History Education is also thrilled to be a champion for Educating for American Democracy. We’ve been really excited about it from the start. We’re just very excited to help partner on events coming up. We’re excited about a debate between Jefferson and Adams that will be coming up discussing some of these big issues in democracy, we’ve been excited to partner with EAD on that. And for all of you, if there are ways that we can support you or just help connect, do let us know. We represent all history educators, so we are 60% K-12. But we’re also professors, we’re also museum educators, we’re also park rangers, just people who really love history and think everyone should know about it.
So if we can help with the connecting, we’re happy to do that. So let us know if you have projects that you’d like us to push out to our members if there are events that you’re having that you’d like us to get information out. We do have a conference coming up in March. So if you’d like to present about that on things related to EAD, we’re delighted to help share that as well. And we’ve a new monthly newsletter. So just anything we can do to help disseminate the information, connect you with other history educators, we’re delighted to do. Did that answer the question, Sarah?
Sarah Jencks: That’s great. Thank you so much. I think some organizations already regularly go and share resources with educators who come to NCHE. But I think there are, especially with the virtual world, so many more opportunities for us to get on the radar of educators, even those who can’t come to the conference. And then also for us to think about how we can use EAD as a framework and a common language to connect with educators. I just want to open this up for questions. I’m especially aware that there are people on this call who are coming from non history sites. And I’m wondering if you all have thoughts about how you might be able to engage with AED. And for history also, but especially for those of you who are coming from sites that don’t primarily identify as history sites or historical institutions.
And just unmute yourselves. Go ahead. All right. You’re still welcome to unmute yourselves whenever. But I’m going to say a little bit more than … Which is that I think we are at a moment when civic learning is essential. I don’t think that’s something that can be debated. And the more that all of us can articulate how we help to engage in civic learning and civic practice, as museums as historical institutions, as art museums, as science museums, the better. Very often we keep ourselves in our own little silos and we need to break down those silos. One way that that’s going to be happening at the AASLH which is the American Association for State and Local History Online Conference, which is in mid-October… aaslh.org … Is that there will be sessions focusing on civic learning including Ace and Fernande.
At that conference, there will also be a session on civic engagement on how to do democracy and do democratic engagement. And how can we as civic institution, as history institutions, specifically for AASLH, frankly get the attention of people in the education world, in the civic learning world, in the democracy space? How do we help them to see us as resources and as partners? And if you are at an art institution or a nature institution or a science institution, how can you bring those conversations into your practice also? Thank you, Steve for putting that up. So I put those questions out to the group. And I see we have Tony Penny joined the call from the Reagan Foundation. And he recently if you haven’t seen his book, published in January, on the civic mission of museums. It is very much worth a read and it addresses a lot of these questions as well, and some of the great work that’s going on in museums around civics.
Ace Parsi: Sarah, I’m going to put the link to this PowerPoint also. You can send a follow-up. So you can go to those links. And I’m going to also put in my Calendly link here … I’ve just converted Sarah to Calendly as well. Not to give it away, Sarah because I know your calendar will fill up. I will include it. So if you want to set up some time with me, anyone, ask any other questions, I’m happy to do that. I think the one thing I will say … We have two events coming up. Grace, maybe if you might be able to pull up the link to the registration for the Jefferson-Adams event. We’re going to have two events coming up within a day of each other, 27/28. When is this Jefferson and Adams event? And that just highlights to me a Thomas Jefferson and a John Adams reenactors talking through some of these themes and design challenges and highlighting how timeless they are.
And that that was also a partnership between National Council for History Educators, the National Council for Social Studies, American Historical Theater and Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge. The opportunity to engage in these sorts of creative events. And then on the 27, New York City Public Schools is going to hold an event that New York City goes first to launch out they will be the first large city district in the country to fully embrace EAD. And that’s 1.1 million students. I think that statistic is one out of every 300 human beings in this country is a New York City public school student. This just highlights there’s a huge opportunity here for us to reach educators at the time that they really need with us both politically and tangibly in terms of time and resources that they need to do their work. Because they’re getting stretched out there and because our country really needs that right now to be engaging in these conversations and not leaning away from them. And hopefully, we can do better for our generational education stuff done for us.
Sarah Jencks: Ace, I want to follow up on what you said. And then I think we are pretty near the point of finishing up. But I want to say that teachers are desperate right now for bipartisan ways to address civic issues. And these EAD standards and roadmap create those ways. Fernande has just suggested that we share a link to … I don’t know what the document is. But Fernande, I think you should put it in the chat. And if you want to say something about it, go ahead. You’re muted.
Fernande: I just wanted to reiterate Sarah’s invitation before to get in touch with us about the additional learning and co creation opportunities. We’re all about creating co-creation labs, right, where we can work together to brainstorm and think about what are best practices and how can we make them work. And we’re just here to support. So I’m just going to pop in a link that describes a little bit of that ecosystem approach that Ace was talking to, and we’re here to serve and support. And if there’s anything we can do to be useful and helpful to you and your work, please let us know.
Sarah Jencks: And that’s forgot history. And I’m just putting in the chat for me also. If you’re interested in continuing to collaborate on this work and you aren’t already in our conversations, please drop me an email. Anything else anyone wants to throw out before we wrap up?
Ace Parsi: I’m going to put also the link into the EAD ecosystem group here, just in case people want to use that, if you want to be a part of that. And this has been the most energizing work of my career, and it’s because of the cause and the people. So I’m really jealous that you guys have been working together for so long. And I’m glad that we’re finally getting a chance to work together. Huge thanks to Sarah and especially Fernande, both of you for your leadership in this and all the groups that are already a part of this and the new groups that will be coming in.
Sarah Jencks: Well, thank you everyone for joining us today. It was a really great conversation. And I hope it’s energized you. That’s what we’re here for. And Steve just mentioned Learn From History, which is … I tried to be a part of that call last night and there was a technological glitch, but Learn From History is a new movement that is trying to re-emphasize the importance of learning from history in this highly politicized moment. And Ace, the ecosystem group, so let’s keep collaborating. Let’s keep trying to knock down these silos. And if you want to be in on the work, get in touch with us. And thank you so much, everyone. Take care.
Ace Parsi: Thank you.