Questions about EAD & The Roadmap

Questions about EAD & The Roadmap Questions about EAD & The Roadmap

EAD proposes a new “inquiry-based” approach that integrates history and civics together and inspires students to learn by asking difficult questions, then seeking answers in the classroom through facts and discussion.

The EAD Roadmap details seven themes and related questions that a large and diverse group of experts and practitioners think that students should encounter over the course of their K-12 education in history and civics to be prepared and engaged citizens. These themes are:

  • Civic Participation
  • Our Changing Landscapes
  • We the People
  • A New Government and Constitution
  • Institutional and Social Transformation–A Series of Refoundings?
  • A People in the World
  • A People with Contemporary Debates and Possibilities.

It is not a scope of curriculum or lessons. It is not standards.

It is a broad framework of questions that states, districts and educators can use to generate their own standards, curricula and lessons that they believe are best suited for their own students.

While the EAD Roadmap embraces the process of inquiry, it does not embrace a specific model. Rather, the EAD inquiry process is compatible with many models–and is something that state and local entities will decide. 

In its purest form, the process we propose has students asking and investigating historical, civic, geographic and economic questions; using primary and secondary sources; making evidence-based claims, defending those claims; and communicating their conclusions.

Taking informed action can be, but is not always a part of this—in fact, you can do inquiry without it. For example, students in science, math, English & Language Arts and other disciplines conduct inquiry all the time when they solve math and engineering problems or conduct a science experiment and write a lab.  

One really important distinction of the Roadmap that differentiates our initiative from the National History Standards is that the Roadmap is neither national standards nor a national curriculum.

EAD instead proposes an inquiry-based approach that reflects multiple perspectives and focuses first on what unites Americans, while acknowledging the many diversities across our nation as both a historical fact AND a civic strength.

To be clear, those debates around history are actually a part of our history–and have literally occurred since our nation was born: the American Revolution was both a struggle for freedom and also a rebellion.

Our view is that debate is a healthy feature, not a flaw of our constitutional democracy and its history. The Roadmap leans into this by baking debate into the way students and teachers can embrace the past. It doesn’t mean that all answers are equally valid, but that students and their teachers can use Roadmap themes, questions and design challenges to do the hard work of evaluating these debates themselves–thereby promoting critical thinking. We are also fortunate to now have access to superb and authoritative primary source material, freely available online, which teachers can use to teach the debates that constitute our shared American history.

The Common Core provided standards that states could choose to adopt. By contrast, the EAD initiative provides guiding principles, but each state will decide whether to align with EAD and, if so, would drive the design of its own standards-revision process. Unlike Common Core, there is no role for the federal government to incentivize adoption of EAD.

Additionally, while Common Core was originally intended to provide standards in English & Language Arts, Math and Science, and Social Studies, the National Governors’ Association (which drove the Common Core process) did not complete the Social Studies standards. While there is support for nonfiction and history/civics-related content in the English & Language Arts standards of Common Core, it is extremely limited and insufficient.

The EAD initiative does not take a specific stance on critical race theory.

EAD is proposing a new, integrative approach that includes looking at all individuals’ experiences with civic institutions throughout our nation’s history. As such, it articulates a strong consensus on the importance of diversity, inclusion and unity when it comes to race and other forms of identity.

The EAD approach is based on the premise that, if we want to inspire students to be civic-minded, we need to make the content relevant to them, which means understanding the perspectives of those who came before them and of those who look like them. Of necessity, this includes consideration of topics related to racial discrimination and oppression, both throughout our history and currently.

The aspiration of the EAD initiative is that the Roadmap will be found useful and usable by a wide array of educators and practitioners in addressing these challenging topics, despite diverse intellectual backgrounds and perspectives. The Roadmap introduces “design challenges” to establish the guardrails within which excellent history and civic learning takes places. Successful examples of EAD instruction will produce solutions to these design challenges. These include, for instance:

  • How can we integrate the perspectives of Americans from all different backgrounds when narrating a history of the U.S. and explicating the content of the philosophical foundations of American constitutional democracy?
  • How do we simultaneously teach the value and the danger of compromise for a free, diverse, and self-governing people?
  • How can we offer an account of U.S. constitutional democracy that is simultaneously honest about the past without falling into cynicism, and appreciative of the founding without tipping into adulation?

Disagreement is a feature, not a bug of democracy; the question is whether we can learn to disagree productively. One of the goals of the EAD Initiative is to teach young people about our disagreements in ways that can help them productively engage in those debates.

The Roadmap promotes reckoning with hard histories in the United States AND shared recognition of the unique achievements of American democracy. This includes directly addressing issues of our country’s founding. For example, Theme 5 in the Roadmap explores how social arrangements and conflicts have combined with political institutions to shape American life from the earliest colonial period to the present. This includes investigating which moments of change have most defined the country and building understanding of how American political institutions and society change.

We believe EAD provides a sound path to navigate controversial aspects of our history.

We have also seen that educators and parents are hungry for the training and support that will allow them to teach controversial topics with the knowledge and sensitivity required.

We hope that state legislation and administrative action will move to incorporate the principles and approach presented in EAD, and that they do not shy away from aspects of our nation’s history that are difficult, such as enslavement, religious conflict, political violence, or profound disagreements over government responsibilities and individual opportunity.

The aspiration of the EAD initiative is that the Roadmap will be found useful and usable by a wide array of educators and practitioners in addressing these challenging topics, despite diverse intellectual backgrounds and perspectives.

The EAD Roadmap released on March 2 is our first deliverable under the original 2019 grant from the National Endowment for Humanities and the US Department of Education to support this project.

Through the fall, our next steps will support initial implementation at the state and local level through:

  • Ongoing curation of EAD-aligned sample content
  • The fielding of three pilot projects that will illustrate high-quality history and civics learning that aligns with EAD
  • Initial work to develop and sustain a community of practice to support states, districts, schools and educators who seek to implement the Roadmap. We have set-up several events and opportunities for these conversations to begin. Those are published on the EAD website.

While we anticipate that funding would be needed from states, the federal government and/or philanthropy to support implementation of the EAD approach at the state and local levels, we have not developed or provided budget targets; rather, we want to prompt a conversation about what it will take to prioritize and invest in history and civics education.

Our goal has been to ensure that policy-makers know what to invest in. If we can close the gap between the $50 we spend on STEM and the $0.05 cents we spend on civics per student each year, we would be in a much better position as a country. But, it’s important to note, this is not an either/or. We believe the investment needs to be in both STEM and civics.

The legislation you are reference (The Civics Secures Democracy Act of 2021) calls for 60% of the proposed $1B funding for civic learning to be distributed to states so that they can invest in educator and administrator training, diversify the educator pipeline, and invest in innovation and research. States can also invest in curricular solutions that they or publishers will build. The bill is not a mandate and prohibits the establishment of a national curriculum.

The EAD initiative hopes that a whole ecosystem of civic education providers will be strengthened as a result of our work. Similarly, passage of this bill would also strengthen the whole ecosystem of civic education providers.

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We the People

This theme explores the idea of “the people” as a political concept–not just a group of people who share a landscape but a group of people who share political ideals and institutions.

Read more about the theme in:

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Institutional & Social Transformation

This theme explores how social arrangements and conflicts have combined with political institutions to shape American life from the earliest colonial period to the present, investigates which moments of change have most defined the country, and builds understanding of how American political institutions and society changes.

Read more about the theme in:

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Contemporary Debates & Possibilities

This theme explores the contemporary terrain of civic participation and civic agency, investigating how historical narratives shape current political arguments, how values and information shape policy arguments, and how the American people continues to renew or remake itself in pursuit of fulfillment of the promise of constitutional democracy.

Read more about the theme in:

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Civic Participation

This theme explores the relationship between self-government and civic participation, drawing on the discipline of history to explore how citizens’ active engagement has mattered for American society and on the discipline of civics to explore the principles, values, habits, and skills that support productive engagement in a healthy, resilient constitutional democracy. This theme focuses attention on the overarching goal of engaging young people as civic participants and preparing them to assume that role successfully.

Read more about the theme in:

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Our Changing landscapes

This theme begins from the recognition that American civic experience is tied to a particular place, and explores the history of how the United States has come to develop the physical and geographical shape it has, the complex experiences of harm and benefit which that history has delivered to different portions of the American population, and the civics questions of how political communities form in the first place, become connected to specific places, and develop membership rules. The theme also takes up the question of our contemporary responsibility to the natural world.

Read more about the theme in:

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A New Government & Constitution

This theme explores the institutional history of the United States as well as the theoretical underpinnings of constitutional design.

Read more about the theme in:

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A People in the World

This theme explores the place of the U.S. and the American people in a global context, investigating key historical events in international affairs,and building understanding of the principles, values, and laws at stake in debates about America’s role in the world.

Read more about the theme in:

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The Seven Themes

The Seven Themes provide the organizational  framework for the Roadmap. They map out the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students should be able to explore in order to be engaged in informed, authentic, and healthy civic participation. Importantly, they are neither standards nor curriculum, but rather a starting point for the design of standards, curricula, resources, and lessons. 

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Driving questions provide a glimpse into the types of inquiries that teachers can write and develop in support of in-depth civic learning. Think of them as a  starting point in your curricular design.

Learn more about inquiry-based learning in  the Pedagogy Companion.

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Sample guiding questions are designed to foster classroom discussion, and can be starting points for one or multiple lessons. It is important to note that the sample guiding questions provided in the Roadmap are NOT an exhaustive list of questions. There are many other great topics and questions that can be explored.

Learn more about inquiry-based learning in the Pedagogy Companion.

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The Seven Themes

The Seven Themes provide the organizational  framework for the Roadmap. They map out the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that students should be able to explore in order to be engaged in informed, authentic, and healthy civic participation. Importantly, they are neither standards nor curriculum, but rather a starting point for the design of standards, curricula, resources, and lessons. 

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The Five Design Challenges

America’s constitutional politics are rife with tensions and complexities. Our Design Challenges, which are arranged alongside our Themes, identify and clarify the most significant tensions that writers of standards, curricula, texts, lessons, and assessments will grapple with. In proactively recognizing and acknowledging these challenges, educators will help students better understand the complicated issues that arise in American history and civics.

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Motivating Agency, Sustaining the Republic

  • How can we help students understand the full context for their roles as civic participants without creating paralysis or a sense of the insignificance of their own agency in relation to the magnitude of our society, the globe, and shared challenges?
  • How can we help students become engaged citizens who also sustain civil disagreement, civic friendship, and thus American constitutional democracy?
  • How can we help students pursue civic action that is authentic, responsible, and informed?
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America’s Plural Yet Shared Story

  • How can we integrate the perspectives of Americans from all different backgrounds when narrating a history of the U.S. and explicating the content of the philosophical foundations of American constitutional democracy?
  • How can we do so consistently across all historical periods and conceptual content?
  • How can this more plural and more complete story of our history and foundations also be a common story, the shared inheritance of all Americans?
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Simultaneously Celebrating & Critiquing Compromise

  • How do we simultaneously teach the value and the danger of compromise for a free, diverse, and self-governing people?
  • How do we help students make sense of the paradox that Americans continuously disagree about the ideal shape of self-government but also agree to preserve shared institutions?
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Civic Honesty, Reflective Patriotism

  • How can we offer an account of U.S. constitutional democracy that is simultaneously honest about the wrongs of the past without falling into cynicism, and appreciative of the founding of the United States without tipping into adulation?
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Balancing the Concrete & the Abstract

  • How can we support instructors in helping students move between concrete, narrative, and chronological learning and thematic and abstract or conceptual learning?
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Each theme is supported by key concepts that map out the knowledge, skills, and dispositions students should be able to explore in order to be engaged in informed, authentic, and healthy civic participation. They are vertically spiraled and developed to apply to K—5 and 6—12. Importantly, they are not standards, but rather offer a vision for the integration of history and civics throughout grades K—12.

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Helping Students Participate

  • How can I learn to understand my role as a citizen even if I’m not old enough to take part in government? How can I get excited to solve challenges that seem too big to fix?
  • How can I learn how to work together with people whose opinions are different from my own?
  • How can I be inspired to want to take civic actions on my own?
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America’s Shared Story

  • How can I learn about the role of my culture and other cultures in American history?
  • How can I see that America’s story is shared by all?
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Thinking About Compromise

  • How can teachers teach the good and bad sides of compromise?
  • How can I make sense of Americans who believe in one government but disagree about what it should do?
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Honest Patriotism

  • How can I learn an honest story about America that admits failure and celebrates praise?
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Balancing Time & Theme

  • How can teachers help me connect historical events over time and themes?
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The Six Pedagogical Principles

 EAD teacher draws on six pedagogical principles that are connected sequentially.

Six Core Pedagogical Principles are part of our Pedagogy Companion. The Pedagogical Principles are designed to focus educators’ effort on techniques that best support the learning and development of student agency required of history and civic education.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

EAD teachers commit to learn about and teach full and multifaceted historical and civic narratives. They appreciate student diversity and assume all students’ capacity for learning complex and rigorous content. EAD teachers focus on inclusion and equity in both content and approach as they spiral instruction across grade bands, increasing complexity and depth about relevant history and contemporary issues.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Growth Mindset and Capacity Building

EAD teachers have a growth mindset for themselves and their students, meaning that they engage in continuous self-reflection and cultivate self-knowledge. They learn and adopt content as well as practices that help all learners of diverse backgrounds reach excellence. EAD teachers need continuous and rigorous professional development (PD) and access to professional learning communities (PLCs) that offer peer support and mentoring opportunities, especially about content, pedagogical approaches, and instruction-embedded assessments.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Building an EAD-Ready Classroom and School

EAD teachers cultivate and sustain a learning environment by partnering with administrators, students, and families to conduct deep inquiry about the multifaceted stories of American constitutional democracy. They set expectations that all students know they belong and contribute to the classroom community. Students establish ownership and responsibility for their learning through mutual respect and an inclusive culture that enables students to engage courageously in rigorous discussion.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Inquiry as the Primary Mode for Learning

EAD teachers not only use the EAD Roadmap inquiry prompts as entry points to teaching full and complex content, but also cultivate students’ capacity to develop their own deep and critical inquiries about American history, civic life, and their identities and communities. They embrace these rigorous inquiries as a way to advance students’ historical and civic knowledge, and to connect that knowledge to themselves and their communities. They also help students cultivate empathy across differences and inquisitiveness to ask difficult questions, which are core to historical understanding and constructive civic participation.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Practice of Constitutional Democracy and Student Agency

EAD teachers use their content knowledge and classroom leadership to model our constitutional principle of “We the People” through democratic practices and promoting civic responsibilities, civil rights, and civic friendship in their classrooms. EAD teachers deepen students’ grasp of content and concepts by creating student opportunities to engage with real-world events and problem-solving about issues in their communities by taking informed action to create a more perfect union.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Assess, Reflect, and Improve

EAD teachers use assessments as a tool to ensure all students understand civics content and concepts and apply civics skills and agency. Students have the opportunity to reflect on their learning and give feedback to their teachers in higher-order thinking exercises that enhance as well as measure learning. EAD teachers analyze and utilize feedback and assessment for self-reflection and improving instruction.

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This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:
EAD teachers commit to learn about and teach full and multifaceted historical and civic narratives. They appreciate student diversity and assume all students’ capacity for learning complex and rigorous content. EAD teachers focus on inclusion and equity in both content and approach as they spiral instruction across grade bands, increasing complexity and depth about relevant history and contemporary issues.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Growth Mindset and Capacity Building

EAD teachers have a growth mindset for themselves and their students, meaning that they engage in continuous self-reflection and cultivate self-knowledge. They learn and adopt content as well as practices that help all learners of diverse backgrounds reach excellence. EAD teachers need continuous and rigorous professional development (PD) and access to professional learning communities (PLCs) that offer peer support and mentoring opportunities, especially about content, pedagogical approaches, and instruction-embedded assessments.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Building an EAD-Ready Classroom and School

EAD teachers cultivate and sustain a learning environment by partnering with administrators, students, and families to conduct deep inquiry about the multifaceted stories of American constitutional democracy. They set expectations that all students know they belong and contribute to the classroom community. Students establish ownership and responsibility for their learning through mutual respect and an inclusive culture that enables students to engage courageously in rigorous discussion.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Inquiry as the Primary Mode for Learning

EAD teachers not only use the EAD Roadmap inquiry prompts as entry points to teaching full and complex content, but also cultivate students’ capacity to develop their own deep and critical inquiries about American history, civic life, and their identities and communities. They embrace these rigorous inquiries as a way to advance students’ historical and civic knowledge, and to connect that knowledge to themselves and their communities. They also help students cultivate empathy across differences and inquisitiveness to ask difficult questions, which are core to historical understanding and constructive civic participation.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Practice of Constitutional Democracy and Student Agency

EAD teachers use their content knowledge and classroom leadership to model our constitutional principle of “We the People” through democratic practices and promoting civic responsibilities, civil rights, and civic friendship in their classrooms. EAD teachers deepen students’ grasp of content and concepts by creating student opportunities to engage with real-world events and problem-solving about issues in their communities by taking informed action to create a more perfect union.

X
This resource aligns with the core pedagogical principle of:

Assess, Reflect, and Improve

EAD teachers use assessments as a tool to ensure all students understand civics content and concepts and apply civics skills and agency. Students have the opportunity to reflect on their learning and give feedback to their teachers in higher-order thinking exercises that enhance as well as measure learning. EAD teachers analyze and utilize feedback and assessment for self-reflection and improving instruction.