Tackling National History Day

NHD initials above two red bars, interspaced with National History Day text

By Deborah B.

It’s not cheating! 

September is around the bend, bringing refrigerators adorned with leaf collages, stink bugs, and virtual football parties with snacks of imaginary calories. It also catapults middle and high school students into the vast expanse that is the National History Day Project, a year-long exploration of an historical topic where students analyze the topic’s immediate and long term impact and its connection to the annual theme, then create a structured presentation model showcasing their extensive research and conclusions in a national competition for grades, glory, and potential monetary awards. Piece of cake.

Parents, do not hit the liquor cabinet! We are here to help! Seriously, it is not cheating for students to get research and analysis assistance. Teachers and parents are frequently tapped, but there is a local, free, natural habitat for history and research nerds eager to help search for buried sources… Howard County Library System.

This year’s theme is Communication in History: The Key to Understanding. How do people exchange information and interact with each other? Think of the act of communicating, the motivation for the communication, the who or what the communication affects. Think of how we struggle with conveying meaning today, even without Zoom calls.

Our virtual classes such as Topic Development and Maximize Your History Day Research offer insights into these questions and others relating to the theme. In October, the NHD Thesis Workshop is a safe mosh pit for students to deconstruct, reconstruct, and beat the heck out of their arguments until they are honed enough to substitute as historical reenactment weapons. Well, maybe not that sharp. Our classes, databases, and collection resources are also not cheats. National History Day encourages students to create a reliquary of history-hunting tools.

Also, these classes are not exclusive to NHD students! We welcome parents and teachers and all teens interested in upgrading their critical thinking skills. In addition, we will host a complement of news literacy performance training. Beware aged opinions. Ideas and thinking can stagnate, even ideas originally based on empirical evidence. Have there been new discoveries? Is there new data? Healthy, critical thinking requires stimuli and exercise, and we coach students through bias obstacles and teach strategies to combat fallacies and fear of opposing viewpoints.

In the next few weeks, somewhere in the county, a child will be assigned a NHD project. There is hope! Our mission, aside from mixing as many metaphors as possible in this blog post, is to help students achieve their academic potential. A small donation of the student’s time rewards them with research guidance and alleviates a librarian suffering from an overabundance of historical minutia. So, go online or call to register for one of our fall NHD classes as soon as they open.

Remember, it’s not cheating.

Deborah B. is a triple threat nerd of books, history, and actual triplets. 

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