Historians from across the state are bringing their knowledge to the Western New York area this week. Museum employees, archivists, librarians, and more will take part in the 36th annual conference on New York State History at Niagara University from Thursday, June 18th, to Saturday, June 20th. The three-day event aims to draw many teachers to the table, as their participation may be key to the state’s future.
It is no surprise that preservation will be a topic of discussion at the state history conference this year, but preservation of the teaching of history could be the most important kind.
New York State Historian Robert Weible says it is critical that people – in particular students – understand the place in which they live.
“If they’re educated about where they live and what came before them, and they grow up in New York, ultimately that leads to a better quality of life for them and their communities,” said Weible.
Weible says people who appreciate their local heritage are more willing to invest their time and their money in the places they live. He says history is a crucial part of people’s lives.
“Everybody has their memory and it’s a tragedy when people lose their memories,” said Weible. “It would be a tragedy for all of us if we lost our communal memory.”
The event’s keynote speeches are free and open to the public, and will feature New York Times Urban Affairs Editor Sam Roberts and Women’s History Scholar Judith Wellman. On Saturday, nationally known social studies educator, S.G. Grant will speak during sessions on some off the big issues in today’s education field, “from common core to examples of education programs that are taking place around the state.”
“We’re talking about the new social studies framework, engaging with communities, and New York State history day,” said Weible.
One of Weible's biggest hopes for the event is that teachers will attend from across the state and Western New York. He says it’s a great opportunity for them to learn about a combination of topics and get involved with lively issues.
“But we also want to get them exposed to content,” said Weible. “Teachers tend to get good training in how to teach, but many of them are looking for more information on what to teach.”
The conference also offers an opportunity for professional development, with continuing education credits available through the conference’s host, Niagara University. Weibel says educators from all levels are encouraged to come listen and share their own opinions.
For more information on how to register, and to view a full schedule of the event, visit the conference website.