A Powerpoint presentation and accompanying activity exploring the history of education in the US


The slide deck below (see Attachments section) is a presentation developed by the National Equity Project to engage people in understanding the history and social political context underlying our current education system. Slides 5-6 of the presentation introduce an activity that can be used as a community mixer as well as a historical reflection exercise. The protocol for this activity is as follows:

  1. Pass out one timeline card to every participant. Each timeline card should have a fact or image on it, like the example on Slide 5. Have participants take a moment to read the card and reflect on what thoughts or feelings come up. Encourage participants to pay attention to the first thought, feeling, or word that the card evokes and to hold that thought or feeling without judging it.
  2. Have participants find a partner and introduce themselves. Have each pair choose who will speak first. Have this person read their card out loud/share their card and share their thought or feeling. Then have the second person do the same.
  3. Have partners acknowledge each other.
  4. Have partners SWITCH CARDS (this is key!).
  5. Participants will read their new card, note their response, and then raise their hand in the air to signal that they are looking for a new partner.
  6. Repeat steps 2-4 for every new partner.
  7. Have participants repeat this process with at least 5 other participants. This activity requires around 15-20 minutes.
  8. Bring the whole group back together and reflect on the activity, using prompts from slide 6.

Connection to Equity

This resource walks participants through how interrogating historical context can uncover how our current education system, and other societal structures at large, were inherently not designed to serve all students or all people well. Using this lens, this presentation helps develop language for what power and oppression look like in society.

Preferred Citation

“History of Education Timeline” developed by the National Equity Project