Facing History Civics Education

Preparing Massachusetts students to participate in democracy

 

For over 40 years, Facing History has been working with Massachusetts educators to teach civics through historical case studies. Our case studies

  • illuminate key aspects of democracy that are missing when the functions of government are taught in the abstract;

  • reveal the complex social and political context in which governments function: the beliefs, personalities, institutions, historical legacies, and human behaviors that shape, and sometimes distort, the democratic process; and

  • invite students to probe the gaps between the ideals in America’s founding documents and the history and lived realities of injustice—an approach that has been shown to effectively stimulate young people’s civic engagement.

With Facing History, students learn that the United States, in all its complexity, is the product of history and the choices people made in the past—and they discover the power of their own choices today. 

A Proven Approach

A compelling body of research validates our approach to civic education. In a randomized controlled trial, Facing History was shown to significantly increase

  • students’ tolerance for others with different political views, 
  • their capacity for civil discourse, and 
  • their belief that they can make a difference.

Facing History students score higher than their peers on a civic responsibility index. Facing History alumni are more civically involved than their peers: more likely to vote, to participate in a civic or community group, and to discuss current events.

In addition, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) named Facing History as one of only nine middle or high school SEL programs (among nearly 400 nominated) that has a proven positive impact on students, such as increased empathy or more prosocial behavior. Facing History is just one of two cited that works at both the middle and high school level.

Bring Facing History to Your School

The Facing History model is flexible and responsive, meeting the needs of individual teachers, whole schools, and entire districts. Let us help you implement the new content and civic standards in 8th grade, US history, world history, and news literacy classes. 

MA Guiding Principles

Facing History aligns with the guiding principles of the Massachusetts framework by:

  • Examining the Legacy of Democratic Government

    • Our case studies demonstrate, first and foremost, the fragility of democracy itself and illustrate Judge William Hastie’s notion that democracy is “a process, not a static condition… easily lost, but never fully won.”

  • Including Diverse Perspectives

    • Our content and pedagogical approach integrates diverse perspectives, and our thematic focus on individual and group identity (found in our case studies and resources like My Part of the Story: Exploring Identity in the United States) also centers and validates students’ multiple identities and lived experiences.

  • Integrating Knowledge from Many Fields

    • Facing History provides an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates scholarship and content from history and social studies, literature, moral development, psychology, ethics, and sociology.

  • Teaching Students to Think Historically and Make Logical Arguments

    • In a randomized control trial, Facing History students outperformed the control group on their capacity to analyze evidence, cause and effect, and agency using an historical understanding assessment that asked students to analyze maps, multiple texts, and a graph. In addition, our case studies each include writing prompts and teaching strategies for the development of a formal argumentative essay.

  • Examining Current Events and Developing News/Media Literacy

    • Teaching current events can be challenging, but it’s a crucial part of students’ development as informed and engaged citizens. Resources like Fostering Civil Discourse and the accompanying on-demand webinar, and lessons on specific current issues help educators take on this difficult work as their students learn to deliberate with peers. We also have a range of news literacy resources, from individual lessons to a full case study, to help students develop media literacy at a time when news is increasingly digital, social, and fast.

  • Developing Social and Emotional Learning Skills

    • The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) named Facing History as one of only nine middle or high school SEL programs (among nearly 400 nominated) that has a proven positive impact on students, such as increased empathy or more prosocial behavior. Facing History is just one of two cited that works at both the middle and high school level.

Learn How Our Resources Align with Standards

 

Resources for Media Literacy

Facing History offers a range of resources to develop students' news literacy skills, including the unit Facing Ferguson: News Literacy in a Digital Age and lessons like Where Do We Get Our News and Why Does It Matter? and The Challenge of Confirmation Bias. Our Current Events teaching ideas also offer just-in-time resources and support for news literacy.

Search Our Global Collection

Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.