Teaching U.S. History as Mystery: 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Teaching U.S. History as Mystery

2nd Edition

By David Gerwin, Jack Zevin


256 pages

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pub: 2010-12-13
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Presenting U.S. history as contested interpretations of compelling problems, this text offers a clear set of principles and strategies, together with case studies and "Mystery Packets" of documentary materials from key periods in American history, that teachers can use with their students to promote and sustain problem-finding and problem-solving in history and social studies classrooms. Structured to encourage new attitudes toward history as hands-on inquiry, conflicting interpretation, and myriad uncertainties, the whole point is to create a user-friendly way of teaching history "as it really is" ─ with all its problems, issues, unknowns, and value clashes. Students and teachers are invited to think anew as active participants in learning history rather than as passive sponges soaking up pre-arranged and often misrepresented people and events.

New in the Second Edition: New chapters on Moundbuilders, and the Origins of Slavery; expanded Gulf of Tonkin chapter now covering the Vietnam and Iraq wars; teaching tips in this edition draw on years of teacher experience in using mysteries in their classrooms.

Table of Contents




1 Mystery in History: Defining History as Mystery, Defining Levels of Investigation

2 From Vietnam to Iraq and Back: Vietnam, Iraq, and the "Lessons of History"

3 A Medium Vietnam Mystery: Was the War Constitutional?

4 There Are Still Mysteries Out There: Investigating the Mound-Builder Peoples of North America

5 Truer Than True: Looking at Women in the Old West

6 Solved Mysteries? The Case of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings

7 Beyond the Bare Facts: Exploring Race and History Through Jefferson and Hemings

8 What Caused ________? The Origins of Slavery in the Chesapeake

9 Conclusion: Teaching History As Mystery

About the Authors

David Gerwin is an associate professor of Social Studies Education at Queens College, City University of New York. A former high school history teacher and history professor, he has sought out endeavors that combine historical scholarship and teacher professional development, including collaborations with the American Social History Project, Working Films, and the New York Historical Society on grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Teaching American History program.

Jack Zevin is Professor of Social Studies Education at Queens College, City University of New York. A former secondary school teacher in Chicago, he has championed the cause of inquiry and discovery teaching methods and has worked extensively with preservice and inservice teachers on curriculum projects, teacher preparation programs, and research studies. He is the author of Social Studies for the 21st Century, now in its Third Edition (Routledge).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Teaching Methods & Materials / Social Science
HISTORY / United States / General