Many people, even today, don’t realize just how much power education holds. The power to shape the future generation into learned, informed, and practical citizens. History plays a huge role in that. History isn’t just tracing events of the past. But rather, it is insightful timelines that can help us choose the better path.
What’s better than taking excerpts of real-life events, and decisions made by real people to base our actions on? But the harsh reality is, that common people ignore history. “It is baseless” “It is irrelevant” and “Times are different now”. Reasons? Excuses? No. Misconceptions.
There still are several aspects and episodes of history that are undisclosed to the people of today. Several heroes, revolutions, movements. Many records, but no recognition. Witnesses, but no appreciators. That’s the truth of the history of the world.
The importance of untold history lies in its capacity to illuminate hidden narratives and marginalized voices. Traditional historical accounts often overlook the experiences of underrepresented groups, perpetuating biases and incomplete understandings. Exploring untold histories reveals the untapped wealth of diverse human experiences, shedding light on struggles, triumphs, and contributions that have been overlooked.
This expanded perspective challenges existing biases and fosters inclusivity and empathy. It enriches our understanding of the complex tapestry of human history, promoting a more accurate and comprehensive historical narrative. By acknowledging untold histories, we honor the resilience and agency of those previously marginalized, fostering a more equitable society and encouraging a more profound appreciation of the interconnectedness of our world.
But history can be made interesting. It can be interactive and engaging. Most classes today can use digital techniques for lessons, seminars, and lectures.
The study of history is crucial for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, it provides us with invaluable insights into the past, enabling us to understand the origins of our societies, cultures, and institutions. History offers a window into the successes and failures of humanity, teaching us lessons that can guide our present and future decision-making.
Furthermore, a strong grasp of history fosters critical thinking skills, encouraging us to analyze evidence, consider multiple perspectives, and make informed judgments. It also promotes cultural awareness, fostering empathy and tolerance by highlighting the diversity of human experiences.
In essence, education in history not only preserves our heritage but equips us with the knowledge and wisdom needed to build a better tomorrow. Organizations like the Driving Force Institute for Public Engagement make national efforts to transform the teaching and learning of American history and civics. Led by Patrick Riccards, they aim to revolutionize American education with relevant video content for students and related professionals.
“DFI is committed to inspiring today’s learners need to “think like historians.”
A History Background
As someone passionate about American history, it is bound that Patrick Riccards shares a deep bond with the subject. “I am a son of a presidential historian”, he says. He grew up believing in the importance and the power of knowing one’s history. Learning history is not just a way to get marks on assignments, or projects, but it should be in pursuit if innovating learning that can be a way for people to solve problems. He wants people to learn history to be critical thinkers.
According to a national survey he led, Patrick found an active dislike for history class in today’s learners. Why so? Misconceptions! Patrick also saw that these students learned from old and out-of-date history books. These books focused on White male landowners and not-so-relevant topics. With such a curriculum, only 4 out of 10 people could pass a test with basic history, per another national survey Patrick conducted.
Soon, he launched the Driving Force Institute to transform the teaching and learning of American history. The institute teaches the places, the events, and the artifacts that are central to history, but often overlooked. The team wants learners who understand American history and hold the persuasion to provide the books.
“My professional mentors inspired me to always make a difference, to constantly challenge the status quo, and look for ways to solve problems, inspire, and have real impact. In pursuit of that, it is only natural that one ultimately becomes a leader.”
A One-of-A-Kind Service
Patrick Riccards knew from his research early on that teachers want a video-based curriculum, but the type of videos that students will engage and interact with are often unavailable. It had some teachers trying to put together their own content, or editing other content available. DFI focuses on a high school audience, and those learners are not looking to watch eight-hour documentaries many teachers use.
The primary audience they chose was high school students, who are used to watching two hours of videos, typically 63 shorts a day, for entertainment. DFI provides bite-sized, provocative stories of American history, delivered in a format and in a medium that today’s learners already live in. It isn’t rocket science, but it also isn’t as commonly used as it should be.
Established in 2020, The Driving Force Institute produces short-form animated videos, explaining important events and movements in history within the standard YouTube length of about two minutes each. The institute has produced 500 unique videos to date, all available open source.
By investigating untold stories, bringing inclusive history to students and classrooms, and connecting with teenage audiences, the Driving Force Institute is revolutionizing how American history is taught and learned.
After a two-year incubation with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, DFI found its feet and stood tall, being one of the largest producers of American History education videos, and the type of education the curriculum has.
Keeping Up With: Brands and Collabs
As a company that produces digital content, DFI was built to recognize the value of a multidisciplinary mode.
To produce historically accurate videos, Patrick and his team work with content partners including the NY Historical Society, White House Historical Association, American Battlefield Trust, Smithsonian, and many others. And to make sure that millions of people can access its material, they collaborate with a variety of distribution and licensing partners. Each partner understands the contribution it makes to the project and respects the function they each play in the operation.
Additionally, DFI considers the feedback it receives from instructors both during and after the final products are used in the classroom. They are aware of how content is used and which formats are most fascinating and practical.
“We stand out because of the stories we tell, the way we tell them, and the partners that help us tell them. With a shared goal of improving American history education, we’ve been able to assemble an all-star team.”
DFI examines both quantitative and ualitative factors in order to determine customer happiness. One can take a look at its video library’s overall audience, which is currently over 50 million people. They can see the number of videos licensed internationally or the amount of downloads each item receives.
Additionally, DFI takes into account the feedback it receives from educators both during and after the finished products are used in the classroom. It is aware of how content is used, the most effective and captivating formats, and, yes, the instructional strategies that fail to engage students. DFI doesn’t mind failing at new things as long as it learns from its mistakes.
Why American History Matters is a new book from The Driving Force Institute. The book is a compilation of essays written by seasoned history instructors from all over the nation who discuss how they successfully teach the subject. These educators tell extraordinary tales.
Under Patrick’s direction, DFI has created videos on the lesser-known episodes in American history as well as the lessons that might be learned from them but are frequently disregarded. More than 500 documentaries about Untold History have been created by DFI.
They are now focusing on the crucial elements. In fewer than three years, the US will mark its 250th anniversary. The most valuable present DFI can give is a companion 500-film collection on key events in American history. This work has already started.
From One Business Mind To Another
“In my first experience as a CEO, I quickly realized that if I wasn’t receiving criticism or pushback, I simply wasn’t pushing hard enough. Social entrepreneurs cannot be afraid of opposition, nor can they fear failure. We need to constantly push to dream, to innovate, to change, and to transform.”
“We aren’t seeking to replicate what others already do. Instead, we are looking for new ways to solve old problems or ways to solve problems we never envisioned. There will be setbacks. There will be mistakes. Each day, we have to remember what motivates us to do the work. What is our North Star? We must believe that if we can dream it, we can do it. And then we must do everything possible to actually do it.”
“Social entrepreneurs cannot be afraid of opposition, nor can they fear failure. We need to constantly push to dream, to innovate, to change, and to transform. We aren’t seeking to replicate what others already do.”