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Marcus, Alan S. “Representing the Past and Reflecting the Present: Museums, Memorials, and the Secondary History Classroom.” The Social Studies 98(3) (2007): 105-10.


Museums, historic sites, and memorials offer opportunities to enhance and build on the history taught in secondary history classrooms. The artifacts they display, narratives they tell, and re-creations of the past they exhibit potentially engage students with content in ways unavailable in a classroom setting or by reading a textbook. The author builds on the notion of museums and other historical sites as institutions that preserve, interpret, and memorialize the past and suggests pedagogical strategies for visits to museums with secondary students that support the development of students' understanding of history. Modeling what teachers can do with students, he examines museums through the lens of three dilemmas: (1) the museum as an educational facility or business enterprise, (2) the museum as a traditional museum or memorial, and (3) the museum as a participant in and reflection of the larger context of local, regional, and national political and social debates.