Confronting History in the Heartland
Chapter 4. “People Need to Know”
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“PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW”
In previous chapters, I have provided a rationale for investigating learning that occurs as students contribute value to communities outside the school. I have also described the contexts in which I chose to study it—Marion, the CHP, and the particular students and classes who, in spring 2011, set out to create a set of articles and resources on the 1930 Marion lynching. This chapter and the next form the empirical heart of the book, reporting on the various forms of value created by these students’ work. I first look at this value as perceived by the students themselves before turning, in Chapter 5, to public perceptions of the project.
The evidence here is drawn primarily from interviews conducted with each student at the project’s end, contextualized using evidence from field notes, earlier interviews, and quotations taken directly from student web pages. The interviews included a variety of questions designed to elicit what sorts of value, if any, students saw in the project. They were asked, for example, about the experience of working on the project and about what, if any, value they saw in their work, followed by a range of more specific follow-up questions. (Full interview protocols and methodological details are provided in the Appendix.) Late in the interview, students were presented with term papers that they had written in the same class as a first-semester project. Those earlier papers, which covered topics in U.S....
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