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SMC|Academic Programs|History|History - Old

History Homepage

History and Social Sciences Building – Third Floor
1900 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405

   Department Chair:   Suzanne Borghei (310/434-3536)            Department Secretary:  Ruth A. Stewart (310/434-4244)

Please see below for Announcements!

The Warner History Essay Contest

WIN UP TO $1000

(Not restricted to History majors)



(Do Not write about culinary history;  focus on  the importance of food in human history)

Applications are at the Scholarship Office (on Pearl Street)

Those who qualify (see below) will receive essay guidelines in the mail.

Application Deadline: Thursday,March 30, 2011, 4:00 p.m. – no exceptions

Minimum Requirements to Enter the Essay Competition

                     Overall (UC transferable) GPA of 3.0
                    At least 12 units completed at SMC
                    At least 3 units of SMC history courses
                      Grade of B in each SMC history course

*Note:    5-8 page essay is due on Monday, May 09, 2011

Thank You!



Subject Matters: Why students fall behind on history

By Sally Holland of CNN
January 18th, 2011

Editor's Note:
In Subject Matters, we reveal the struggles faced by educators who teach subjects such as science, math and English, and the solutions they've found.

(CNN) -- As history is made every day, history teachers' subject matter is growing with it -- even as the number of classroom hours stays the same.That ever-expanding content is the crux of the social studies teacher's dilemma: How to cover every topic with limited class time?Here are some of the challenges they face in their classrooms.

Cutting back too young

When high school teacher David Plonski mentions the 1860s and 1960s, he expects those dates to trigger different ideas in the minds of his students at Tarboro High School in Tarboro, North Carolina.In the 1860s, the United States was caught up in the Civil War. The 1960s are remembered for social revolution, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and Beatlemania.

But Plonski notices that some students have a weak sense of time, are unable to picture the different characteristics of those eras and often confuse events a century apart.At Caprock High School in Amarillo, Texas, teacher Jeff Frazer said he's surprised by how many of his incoming students know that the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 but don't know that it was a list of grievances against Great Britain.

"I think they learn information by itself, in isolation," Frazer said of his students. "But putting the big picture together is not happening."And during the comparative religions unit at Rutland Middle School in Rutland, Vermont, Ted Lindgren regularly asks students, "What is Easter about?"He said they invariably bring up the Easter bunny but don't know the significance of the holiday to Christianity. It shows a lack of cultural literacy, Lindgren said, that they have to compensate for during class.

"There's just a lot more to occupy a student's time today than there was in previous generations," the eighth-grade teacher said.

High school students' lack of a historical knowledge base can partially be explained by the decrease in class time spent on social studies at the elementary level. History is not an area that requires testing under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, so it often gets shortchanged, teachers said."In a lot of districts, social studies and science have been removed from the curriculum, per se, because of math and language arts testing," said Gayla Hammer of South Elementary School in Lander, Wyoming.

To help mitigate the problem, Hammer and other teachers said, they use social studies texts within their reading lessons, because reading skills will appear on standardized tests.Beverly Fanelli, a fifth-grade teacher at Fox Elementary School in Macomb, Michigan, said she approaches social studies as informational reading so she can work it into her language arts curriculum.

"Because we have so much to do and only so much time, wherever we have overlap, I will," she said.

History grows; class time doesn't

"The only issue that I have with what I teach is, I wish I had time to go deeper," Tarboro High school civics and economics teacher Leshaun Jenkins said.It's a complaint repeated by other history educators, who must balance "trivia" with larger concepts.When Plonski teaches the Jimmy Carter administration, he said, he covers the 1978 Camp David Accords, considered to be a major stepping stone to peace in the Middle East. He also teaches about the 1978 deregulation of the airlines, although it's information he believes his students will never need in the future.

He said he shortchanges his lecture on the accords because of North Carolina's recommendation that he also cover the airlines."You have to take away time from the bigger topics in order to make sure you cover small details, just because they could appear on the state exam," Plonski said.World history teacher Troy Hammon of Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, said he is constantly weighing how much "trivia" he teaches, like names, dates and places, and when to try to help his students relive history.

For example, Hammon had his students take on the roles of individuals who may have taken part in the Crusades of the Middle Ages. The students then answered questions based on their knowledge of that time. Hammon believes this helps his students better understand the Middle Ages.

"History grows every year, no matter what," said Jennifer Kravitz, who teaches world history, civics and economics at Rutland High School in Vermont. "So with this ever-expanding content, teachers are trying to balance teaching history content with helping students learn the essential skills they are going to need."

Years later, time to review

When students in California take their state-mandated social studies tests at the end of eighth grade, it covers material from the ancient world history class they took in sixth grade, world history and the Middle Ages classes from seventh grade and U.S. history from eighth grade.That one test covers several semesters of material, some of which students haven't touched in years.

"I don't think most adults could pass that test at the proficient level if they had to take it," said Carolyn Raber of Will C. Wood Middle School in Sacramento.To graduate from high school in Texas, students must pass a test that covers everything from early American history to the end of the Vietnam War.

Because some of that material was covered as long ago as eighth grade, Frazer must take time to review so his students can pass the high school test.But that's not the only hard part about tests, teachers said. History tests tend to measure more than just a students ability to remember and analyze the past."They have to be proficient readers," said middle school teacher Raber. "It's just as much a reading test as a history test."

As a teacher at an urban middle school with a high number of struggling students, Raber finds it frustrating when schools or teachers are labeled as failures based on test results in single subjects."Realistically, I could be transferred to another school with a different set of students," Raber said, "and I would be considered a success."

Find this article at:

Hulu + History = Entertainment (For Free!)

Interested in the Medicis, Ancient Rome, the history of the Israelites, Japan's 'Secret Empire'?

Explore empires from across the world and the ages for free
by clicking on the link below.
Then show up in your SMC history class ready to impress your teacher and friends.

[This from The History News Network]

The Real 'Mad Men' Behind the '60s Ad Revolution

Source: Newsweek (7-15-10)

Mad Men, AMC’s critically acclaimed drama about the advertising men who ruled Madison Avenue in the 1960s (and the women who worked and lived with them), is coming back for its fourth season on July 25. Apart from making ’60s fashion and décor stylish again, the show offers a fascinating take on how some of the 20th century’s biggest brands became what they are today. In her new book, Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America, blogger Natasha Vargas-Cooper took a look at the real men behind the ’60s ad revolution and the cultural landscape that influenced them. She spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Isia Jasiewicz about what Don Draper can teach us about advertising and the media now.

What is it about the advertising business of the 1960s that appeals so much to television viewers now?

What you’re seeing in Mad Men, and what you see at Sterling Cooper [the fictional agency where creative director Don Draper and his cohorts worked through the season-three finale], any time that Don pitches a campaign, [it’s] actually part of a creative revolution. In Don’s work we see the idea that advertising should be less about arguing the virtues of a product and more about having some sort of emotional connection to it. In the ’60s, that was a new idea. Part of watching the show and part of its fun is to know that Don knows what he’s talking about. The trends that were set in those boardrooms and the way that advertising was talked about then is really how it is now.

Student Cheating

David E. Pritchard, a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
has studied how students use online tools to cheat. He says
students who copy homework do far worse come exam time. This article (see the link below), from The Chronicle of Higher Education, details the rise of cheating in the classroom.
More important, the reader blog at the end of it
reveals a wide variety of views about cheating, whether teachers should care, and the purpose (or not)
of homework. Whether you're a teacher or a student, prepare to be shocked and surprised.

Click HERE to read the article

Are you a New American or the Member of a Minority Group?

If so, don't miss out on valuable scholarship information.
Click here to view a PDF Guide by Community Alliance on
how to further your education.

Is The DaVinci Code Fact or Fiction?
Dan Brown and the Use and Abuse of History

If you've read The DaVinci Code, then you know Dan Brown. By most accounts, his novel is a good read, but does it accurately depict historical fact?

This excerpt about Dan Brown's latest historical novel is from The Sun, for September 15, 2009.

"The Lost Symbol is expected to make claims about the influence of secret organisation the freemasons on US leaders. And it is tipped to brand first President George Washington a TRAITOR. Freemasons have been accused of influencing judges, police, civil servants and academics. The 1.5million members of America's 2,000 lodges are also regularly accused of occultism and Satanism, which they strongly deny.

British historian and Masonic expert Ashley Cowie last night blasted Brown over the book, published in the UK tomorrow. He said: "Dan Brown is about to make a huge controversy because he knows it sells. He's going to create uproar in America. But it's fiction, not fact."But fellow historian David Shugarts said: "It's true that some of the founding fathers were powerful Masons."

To learn more, go to The Sun, at

Does Obama Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?

Recently President Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize. Does he deserve it? What is the Prize given for? By whom? Answers to these questions and much more can be found on the History News Network, at

Learn the history of the Nobel Prizes and the two presidents who received them prior to Obama. Then, make up your own mind -- armed with the Historical Record.

           History Department Announcements

          The History Club at SMC -- The History Club is now organizing for the
             2009-2010 academic year. Everyone is welcome (not just history majors).
            Bring your interests and expertise in any area of history. Join us for films,
          field trips, guest speakers, and more! The History Club meets Thursdays
         at 11:15, in Room LA 243.

          For more info, email SMCHISTORYCLUB@GMAIL.COM

Essential Information for History Students

To succeed in your history class requires good writing. In fact, good writing is a key to success in most
of the classes offered at Santa Monica College. How does one go about researching, writing, and
documenting a historical essay?

Here are two good sources. Look for these titles at our college bookstore
and library.

  • Jules R. Benjamin, A Student's Guide to History (Bedford/St. Martin)
  • Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History (Bedford/St.Martin)

Thank you!