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Teaching History that is True and Full: Critical Thinking and Teaching in North Carolina Public High Schools

Emma Gilley
Emma Gilley
Faculty Adviser(s)

All students, all people, are insightful, have passions, and have the desire and ability to learn. One of the many purposes of education is to promote critical thinking, and this is best achieved when our teachers model critical teaching. How do we do this in a country where the zeitgeist suggests that teachers are dumb, unprepared, unfit, and undeserving? What role do teachers play in the constant evolution of the internet - that allowed us to learn from home (with a great level of innovation, hard work, and compassion), that allows us to participate in consequence culture, and that allows us to constantly argue for, or against, critical race theory in schools? And how does this look specifically in North Carolina high school history education, which required only for the first time in February of 2021 that the words “discrimination” or “racism” would be included in N.C. standards - only for people all across the state to push back against these changes? The standards created by the National Council for the Social Studies, and years of educational research, show that students benefit in the classroom from looking critically at the truth. By examining all of this information, I sought to create a discussion of the Individual’s Identity in History Education, Making Connections to History Education through Critical Thinking and Teaching, and ultimately a deep venture into the Practice of Implementing Critical Teaching in History Education.


Emma Gilley is a senior at Salem College studying History and pursuing teaching licensure in 9th-12th grade Social Studies. Emma is currently student teaching at Atkins High School where she learns every day from her World History and American History students. She is looking forward to working in public education after graduation.