Columbus State to Adopt ‘Cultural History’ Curriculum

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Columbus State University’s College of Education and Health Professions will prepare educators to deliver cultural history lessons, thanks to a grant from the Caroline Lawson Ivey Memorial Foundation.

The Cultural Approach to History Education is a project that “will impact local schools with a framework for a cutting-edge approach to teaching history at the kindergarten through high school levels,” said foundation board member Andrew Weaver, who retired from Auburn University after serving as a social science education professor, Department of Curriculum and Teaching head and acting associate dean of education.

Cultural history education is based on exploring societies through records of their knowledge, customs and arts. The approach emerged in the early 1900s and complements the traditional history education method based on studying major political figures, important events and significant trends.

Weaver said the concept of cultural history is central to the legacy of the late Oliver T. Ivey, husband of the foundation’s namesake.

“(Ivey) put the finishing touches on it,” Weaver said.

The ideas of cultural history education pioneer Caroline Ware, who edited the influential 1940 book The Cultural Approach to History, and writings of historian F.W. Walbank significantly influenced Oliver Ivey, a history professor who taught at Auburn University for several decades through the 1960s.

“(Ivey) adapted the concept for graduate-school courses and for several public school systems in Alabama,” said Weaver, a colleague of Ivey for several years. “Its implementation in the Montgomery school system’s seventh-grade history curriculum drew a ‘Profile of Promise’ designation from the U.S. Office of Information.”

The curriculum provides the student with “a holistic understanding of time and place through six different lenses,” said Weaver, who is serving as a consultant to project director Richard Gardiner, a CSU assistant professor of teacher education.

The “lenses” refer to six divisions of social activity:
• Economic: The Market … To provide physical sustenance for the individual and group
• Social: The Home … To support and provide continuity of the family
• Political: The State … To provide security for the individual and group
• Intellectual: The School … To discover and disseminate truth
• Religious: The Church … To understand what civilizations worshiped and how they developed ethical beliefs
• Aesthetic: Fine Arts Institutions … To create and appreciate beauty

The two-year grant will fund a Caroline Lawson and Oliver T. Ivey Memorial Scholarship Endowment for history education majors, two graduate assistantships to support Gardiner, summer workshops for teachers, and reproduction and updating of "The Cultural Approach to History Education" curriculum.

Ivey Foundation chair and longtime Columbus State supporter Steve Brice said the university strongly suits the initiative.

"I have been associated with CSU for many years and have the highest respect for the institution, said Brice, whose wife, Laura, is a niece of Caroline and Turner Ivey. (The Brices reside on a family farm in Smiths Station, Ala., that belonged to the Iveys). “The College of Education and Health Professions offers a unique opportunity that we could not find elsewhere: to partner in updating and enhancing the ‘cultural approach.’”

Gardiner and his staff, with CSU-specialist assistance, will digitally republish the curriculum literature provided by the foundation and coordinate CSU student and faculty development in the cultural history discipline through study abroad and other activities.

Columbus State’s adaptation also will incorporate the Chattahoochee Valley’s history, which will “give Columbus-area kids a better understanding of their home community,” said Gardiner.