Danielle Allen:


Our hope is that everybody starts to use the same set of questions. And these questions are history questions and civics questions.

To give you an example, if you look at state standards now, very often, what you will see is a list of names and dates, so the Boston Tea Party and Shays’ Rebellion, three branches of power, for example, or three branches of government.

And we’re suggesting, instead, we want to ask questions. So, when you’re thinking about the American Revolution, what were the perspectives that the colonists, that indigenous Americans, that free African Americans and enslaved African Americans had on the British government?

You still have to learn a lot of stuff to answer that question. But the goal is to engage students in a process of inquiry, working with primary sources to really help them dig into a broad understanding that integrates perspectives.

We also ask civics questions. How do we define fairness? What are the different possible ways of defining fairness? How does fairness come into our lives and our communities and with one another? And so it’s really about engaging students in those hard questions and debates, and then working hard on how we debate productively with each other.