How A History Teacher Helped Create Trekking Through History

How A History Teacher Helped Create Trekking Through History

Stacy Tornio Stacy Tornio

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We had a lot of amazing input from supporters and history buffs in choosing the events for Trekking Through History. In addition, we brought in a historian to research and make recommendations. Heather Jenks, who is also a history teacher, really helped us dig up cool facts for this game. Watch below as she talks about working on the game, and then read her Q&A about what it's like teaching history in this day and age. 

What's your day job?

Currently I am a 7th grade world history teacher at Sallie B. Howard School of the Arts and Science in North Carolina. My past positions have been in academic and school libraries, so research was a significant part of my experience.

What's your interest or background with history?

I have a bachelor's in history with an honors thesis on the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. I have a master's in academic libraries, and I am currently finishing up a doctorate with a focus on culturally relevant curriculum and publishing. Also, I come from a whole family of people who love history. It's just in my blood. 

What was challenging about finding events to include in this game?

History, in general, is challenging. Although there have been strides in recent years to include true histories and perspectives of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) and their experiences, that information can still be difficult to find. Also finding accurate information that is true to the history can be hard.

What did you do to make sure the events were factual and not incorrect versions of history?

GREAT question! It is all about information literacy. It is so easy to Google something and think "that's cool, it must be true," but finding accurate information means cross referencing and double, triple, and quadruple checking information. Some of the events that you find sound fascinating and hold a lot of truth, but even within that truth there are inaccuracies.

How have you seen the way we teach history to students change over time?

History has always been taught as memorization. I HATED history in school. It was so boring. I teach history through storytelling. Real history is exciting—it is more about change and empowerment and tenacity. Students today love knowing that they are part of that historical lifecycle. Presenting them with good and accurate information that is culturally relevant and responsive allows them to connect with the past. I love that more students are embracing history as part of themselves and developing their own opinions and learning to think critically.

What would you still like to see change as we teach young people (and older people) about history?

Students need to be taught the whole history. They need to see all the perspectives and not just the one that "appeals" to them. Engagement in history makes history a part of them. Embracing that past and finding themes can really help us to understand why we are here and how we got here.

Do you have a favorite event from the game?

I have so many! I think one of my favorites was the Trung Sisters. I was so happy to see these powerful women added as part of the game.

What do you hope people get out of this game?

I hope people have fun first and foremost. As a history buff, helping with this game was thrilling. I learned a lot just from researching events and really digging deep into the information available.

Anything else?

When it comes to history and changing what we learn and what is talked about, I would like to see more focus on women in history. For far too long, BIPOC and women and their contributions have been ignored. We do see a lot more Eurocentric contributions of women, but I would like to see more. Women hold such a significant place in history, and I believe they are largely and too often ignored. That is one of the other hard parts of studying history—if there is no documentation, there is so much that is lost, and that is such an unfortunate thing.

To learn more about Trekking Through History and to get updates, go here. 

A history buffs (and writer of the game's cards) shares her favorite moments in Trekking Through History here. They my surprise you! 

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