Thursday, December 6, 2012

Top Ten Most Important Events in Montana History

And now for something completely different…

One of my favorite “End of Chapter” questions included in our textbook, Montana: Stories of the Land, asks students to “Create a list of the five things you think have had the greatest impact on life in Montana throughout human history.” I like it because it requires students to step back, think about what they’ve learned, and see the forest for the trees. (Does anyone ever assign this question? If so—I’d love to know how it works.)

I thought it would be fun to ask members of the Montana History and Heritage Education community a similar question.  Top five seemed too hard, though, so I’ve created a quick survey asking folks to identifying the TOP TEN most important (seminal, transformative, influential, significant, consequential) events in Montana history.

Take the survey here.

If you don’t take the question too seriously (and I hope you won’t), it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to record your answers. This is really an “off the top of your head,” gut-feeling kind of survey. And it is very informal. If you end up picking a top 8 or top 12 instead of a top 10, no worries.

This very informal survey has four main purposes:

  1. I thought it might help those teaching Montana history step back a moment and consider how they are allocating their time. Are you spending the most time on the most important events? Or are you spending more time on less significant topics? And, if the latter, why? (There may be very good reasons to do so—but it is worth thinking about what your priorities are.)
  2. I am really curious to see what people think. Will we all have similar ideas? Or are there radical differences in how we perceive the history of our state? I’ll share the results in a future post.
  3. After I compile the answers, I’ll also take the top picks and feature teaching resources on those topics to make it easier to teach about what we (collectively) think is most important.
  4. It will be fun.
Need more incentive? I’m offering prizes to the third, tenth, and twenty-third person to answer the survey. So, what are you waiting for? Click through.
P.S. Did I mention that this survey shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete?

Addendum: I am no longer tabulating survey results, but taking the survey is still an instructive exercise. You can find out what I learned from the survey by reading these posts: Surprises. Survey Results, and Comments.

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