History of the Present Timeline

Maybe the most certain of all philosophical problems is the problem of the present time, and of what we are in this very moment. 

— Michel Foucault, 1978


For the fall 2021 semester, students in ED253 will research and create a “history of the present” timeline based on their research of a pressing issue germane to the field of education studies.  

Assignment Due | at time of scheduled final exam


A history of the present is less concerned with understanding the past than with developing a critical understanding of the present. A history of the present endeavors to achieve this understanding by disclosing the historical, economic, political and/or cultural circumstances through which a current issue has emerged and by identifying those circumstances upon which that issue still depends. In this way, a history of the present often begins by identifying a current issue that you have yet to fully question because it assumes a certain level of commonsense. Yet, when seriously researched, the issue is recognized as significant, in part, because it has been generally overlooked or misunderstood.


Create an Education Timeline of events that help you question and better understand current issues germane to the field of education studies. For each event on your Education Timeline, please include a succinct summary and discuss the significance of the event including how/why it contributes to your critical understanding of the present. Write in the first person. (~125 words for each event). Events are to include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Historical events (political, cultural, social, economic, educational) that inform or are otherwise significant to your central beliefs about education;
  • Publications and/or documents that inform or are otherwise significant to the formation of your central beliefs about education.
  • Personal experiences as a student and/or as an educator, from pre-school to college and beyond that inform your central beliefs about education.

References are required; in all that you do, credit your sources


What could possibly be the significance of the study of educational foundations to teachers responsible for educating our nation’s students?  While the design of learning environments and the application of teaching methods are central to the teaching profession, designs and methods make sense only with an informed understanding of the historically specific context of the contested field of education. Indeed, as citizens of this great democracy, as agents of the institution of education, and as members of local school communities, the decisions teachers make about teaching methods and learning environments affect the lives and futures of school children in the United States.

In the wider society, the understanding of the historically specific context of education is frequently contested and made the objects of partisan debates. Yet education is perhaps the least understood institution in the United States. While most Americans spend 12 or more years attending school, the issues that define “effective” schools and educated students shift and change through time. From democracy and citizenship to racial and class equity or accountability, what are the historical, economic, political and cultural issues that determine “effective” schools right now in this present time?

Digital Timeline Tools

You are welcome to produce your education timeline in any form or style that you would like. It can be digital or analogue, textual or multimodal. There is a timeline block available in WordPress that you are welcome to use. Consider the following link with descriptions of numerous digital timeline creation tools for teachers.

Education Timeline Assessment Rubric

  • The History of the Bentwood Chair