Students Work To UnTextbook Their Learning

29 Dec 2021

What happens when young people are given a chance to make a difference? We’ve seen time and time again students rising to the occasion to change the world for good, working to make a more just and equitable future.  

Recently, this global trend towards difference making  has manifested in a new podcast, UnTextbooked. This podcast, led by The History Co:Lab (formerly known as got history?), a systems change organization, brought together a group of young people and historians to have conversations that seek to change the way young people engage with history. It’s about a dynamic relationship with history, not a static one that lives inside a textbook and not a narrative largely shaped by a single culture.

The hosts are teenagers from across America, and they interview professional historians to find answers to the big questions of today. Each episode features one teen podcaster, one book, and one historian and is framed around a timely and relevant question chosen by the young podcaster, including “Does America live up to its own ideals?” and “Germany addressed its racist past. Can America do the same?”  

The future is going to belong to the people who care about it. Our nation will be what we — and increasingly you — decide it will be, and anything I can do to help you prepare yourselves to decide well is my pleasure and my honor.

General Stanley McChrystal

Got History’s founder, Fernande Raine, marveled at the talent of the production team: “Grownups have been talking about the need for better history for decades.  I’m thrilled to see this podcast unleashing the power of amazing young people to actually get it done.”

“I’ve gotten to meet so many cool people,” said Sydne Clarke during a podcast interview. “In terms of what I’ve learned from the stories of my other producers and the great people who have also been a part of this project, I’ll never forget it […] everyone, at least once in their life, should get involved with different people from different backgrounds and different stories just to gain new perspectives, because truly you do learn a lot.”

Talk about difference making and student voice!

As is the Getting Smart way, we love to ask “What If?” questions about the future of learning. This podcast brought a few to mind:

  • What if we centered history curriculum around big questions that young people were curious about?
  • What if young people were engaged with active historians who were sharing new perspectives, findings and learnings from our recent and distant histories?

“The future is going to belong to the people who care about it. Our nation will be what we — and increasingly you — decide it will be, and anything I can do to help you prepare yourselves to decide well is my pleasure and my honor,” said former Joint Special Operations Commander (JSOC) General Stanley McChrystal

UnTextbooked recently won the 2021 Spotify Next Wave Award, an award for student podcasters with outstanding platforms, podcasts and commentary. Together, this diverse group of young learners is not only “making history unboring” but leaving a more accurate, and loving history in their wake.

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