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Bringing Current Events Into the Classroom

Testing pressures and curriculum mandates may have "squeezed" current events out of many schools, but a high school teacher in Farmington, Conn., takes it upon himself to teach a five-week course on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars every May, according to an article by New York Times education writer Michael Winerip. Chris Doyle, an Advanced Placement United States History teacher at Farmington High School, turns to the current wars after his students have completed their A.P. exams. He brings in combat veterans to speak to his students, and, since textbook coverage of the wars is nonexistent, assigns readings from recently published political and foreign policy books.

Doyle thinks an understanding of the current wars is essential to students' knowledge of the world they live in. "These wars will be the defining experience of their generation," he told Winerip. "And they learn nothing about them in school."

Doyle says his students' opinions on the war haven't necessarily changed after taking the class, but that his lessons have enabled them to understand other people's positions.

Winerip refers to the experience of one student in particular who said she learned a great deal from his class, and not just about war:

"She learned the pleasure of having a teacher who doesn't teach to the test. ... She learned that most of history is not in a textbook."

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