About This ProjectBrilliant children in urban schools all across the country continue to achieve at low academic levels, particularly in history. To address this, educational research has relied on macro-level policies that fail to explore what actually matters: the learning processes of urban youth. The Youth Historians in Harlem (YHH) study explores how using historical process methodologies and a youth-driven, community-focused curriculum can engage disengaged students, and improve the critical thinking and academic literacy skills needed for success. UPDATE: We did it! Now, let's reach the stretch goals!
Ask the ScientistsJoin The Discussion
What is the context of this research?
YHH seeks to improve students' academic outcomes by both increasing students' motivation to study history and motivating them to read and write.
1) How can urban students' local history (i.e., history of neighborhood) be used to increase students' engagement in history at large?
2) What does a community history-based curriculum that leverages these local resources actually "look" like?
3) How can history be a pathway towards improving multi-modal literacies for "low-achieving" students?
From a theoretical foundation, YHH explores the intersections of public/community history, Historical Thinking literature, and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR).
What is the significance of this project?
A Harvard History Professor recently proclaimed that in British schools, "History has never been more popular outside schools today, yet, history has never been so unpopular inside schools." Could the same be said about U.S. classrooms? Not only are history test scores the lowest of the four major subjects across all students, but students are increasingly finding history boring and most of all, unrelated to their lives. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in urban schools in which history as a discipline is rarely seen as a so-called "solution" to the problem of low academic achievement in education discourse.
The Youth Historians in Harlem (YHH) project seeks to change this paradigm and re-think history pedagogy in urban classrooms. For urban students who are disengaged with school in general, studying community/public history can be a way to initially re-engage them in the learning process, and if utilized correctly, substantially increase their critical thinking and literacy skills. To close the achievement gap, educational researchers must be increasingly innovative; for example, immersing urban students in the rich history of their community to improve their learning experience inside (and outside) the classroom.
What are the goals of the project?
Since YHH operates as an after-school program, funds will primarily be used for a number of logistical items needed to make this study happen. Unlike a chemist who already has a laboratory to conduct his or her research, educational researchers do not have pre-equipped labs -- real-life schools (and generally under-funded schools serving low-income students) are our laboratories! Specifically, these funds will provide basic supplies that will give students the tangible "tools" (i.e., notebooks, flash drives to save work, travel funds, etc.) needed to read, write, and research during each after-school session (and me the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular lesson or technique).
Fortunately, funds will not only allow the study to commence for the sake of scholarship, but because of the nature of such "hands-on" research, these funds will directly benefit student participants, too.
Once the program commences, if you are a "Backer," Lab Note updates will occur each week!
Initial funds will be used to purchase essential supplies that are needed for students (i.e., journals, pens, folders, etc.) as well as various other logistical items such as New York City Metro Cards (for student travel), binders and USB drives for research collection, money for photocopies, a camera for interview protocols, and voice recorders for oral history. These funds will also be needed to create "readers" for students to work with throughout the year. Finally, since YHH will partially take place after school, snacks will need to be provided for students to accommodate the increase in the school day.
At $3000 -- we will be able to take additional trips that various museums and landmarks that require entrance fees and/or groups tour fees (i.e., Museum of the City of New York, New-York Historical Society, etc.)
At $4000 -- an additional, full-time ethnographer (i.e, additional researcher besides myself) can be officially hired to attend each session and observe separately to aid in all research.
At $5000+ -- we will be able to look seriously at acquiring more technology for students, such as iPads, that can help explore issues related to digital literacy. (This is particularly useful because technology exposure is limited for students in and out of school, so the more exposure the better!) Furthermore, additional funds can also be used to class sets of books and scholarly journals for students to have access too at any time.
Meet the Team
Team BioBarry M. Goldenberg is an author and current Doctoral student in the History and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Believing that research can be a powerful form of social justice, Barry serves as a Research Fellow at the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME) where he is currently the Project Director for Youth Historians in Harlem. Outside of his research pursuits, Barry is the author of The Unknown Architects of Civil Rights (Critical Minds Press). In addition, Barry has been featured on the Harlem World Radio Show and has spent time abroad volunteering in Cape Town, South Africa. Barry holds a B.A. in History (highest departmental honors), magna cum laude, from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). You can find his personal blog at www.barrygoldenberg.com.
Barry M. Goldenberg is an author, scholar-activist, and current Doctoral student in the History and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Believing that research can be a powerful form of social justice, Barry serves as a Graduate Research Fellow at the Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME) where he is currently the Project Director for Youth Historians in Harlem (http://www.youthhistorians.com)—an after-school program which seeks to explore how innovative history experiences and public history can be used to both empower and improve the academic literacies of traditionally marginalized youth. Outside of his research pursuits, Barry loves to write, and is the author of The Unknown Architects of Civil Rights (Critical Minds Press). In addition, Barry has been featured on the Harlem World Radio Show, previously served as an Intern for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and has spent time abroad volunteering in Cape Town, South Africa. Barry holds a B.A. in History (highest departmental honors), magna cum laude, from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). You can find his personal blog at www.barrygoldenberg.com.
Additional InformationFor further information about the study, its origin, and to view pictures/weekly summaries from last year's study, please visit the Youth Historians in Harlem website. (Please keep in mind, however, that the study will greatly differ in the upcoming year in terms of depth, breadth, and overall curriculum structure.)
Youth Historians in Harlem Miscellaneous Press:
Barry Goldenberg on The Danny Tisdale Show on the Harlem World Radio Radio discussing YHH
Barry Goldenberg: "The Bus Stops Here" -- article in Teachers College's People Magazine (includes information about YHH trajectory)
See also relevant literature: Ernest Morrell and John Rogers (2006). "Students as Critical Public Historians: Research on Diversity and Access in Post Brown v. Board." Social Education 70, no. 6: 366-369. [PDF]
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