Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Conservative Politics and their Impact on the Teaching of History: The Example of the Virginia Standards of Learning

Dr. Kathy Pearson.

The Virginia Standards of Learning constitutes a set of formal content guidelines for K-12 students in the Virginia Public School System. While the standards movement has been a nationwide phenomenon, the Virginia SOLs are largely the consequence of conservative political involvement in the process of public education. Careful reading of the SOLs reveals a politically conservative and narrowly focused perspective on what history students should be taught at each grade level. This is especially evident in the SOLs for 8th and 9th grade, the years in which "World History" is offered to secondary school pupils. The SOLs are long on routine memorization and short on insightful analysis, and provide few broad-based interpretations which could aid students in developing global perspectives of the past and present. Some of the shortcomings of the current SOLs could be addressed by a humanities-based interdisciplinary approach, but such a drastic revision of the Standards is not likely to occur given the political climate and the continued politicization of history education in Virginia.


Dr. Kathy Pearson  (United States)
Associate Professor of History
Department of History
Old Dominion University

Dr. Kathy Pearson is an Associate Professor of History at Old Dominion University, specializing in the fields of Ancient and Medieval History. Her first book, "Conflicting Loyalties in Early Medieval Bavaria," (Ashgate, 1999) was the first English language monograph devoted to the emergence of the early medieval territory of Bavaria Her current research interests are multidisciplinary, covering a variety of topics in the areas of Late Antiquity and Food Studies.

  • History Instruction
  • Humanities Instruction
  • Conservative agendas in Humanities Teaching

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)