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Future-Focused History: the commonsense idea that knowledge of the past can inform judgment in the future.

© 2001-2020 Michael G. Maxwell, Maxwell Learning LLC

Now available from Student's Friend founder Mike Maxwell

Future-Focused History Teaching:

Restoring the Power of Historical Learning

"This book is intended for people who value history and believe that historical learning should be less a pointless exercise in temporarily memorizing trivial facts for the next exam, and more a quest for important knowledge from the past that can inform judgment in the future. Any society that has developed the capacity to destroy most life on earth needs all the good judgment it can get, and there is no better place to seek it than in the long record of human experience." From the Introduction

Comments are welcome at

The angel and the devil symbolize two sides of human nature, which is the chief source of principles of historical knowledge.


Introduction: A conflict at the heart of history education


Chapter 1: An encounter with the power of history

Chapter 2: Basic problems of history education

Chapter 3: Who is to blame for the trivia game?

Chapter 4: Hard times for history education


Chapter 5: Historical knowledge suitable for education

Chapter 6: Cognition and the grand assumption

Chapter 7: Basic principles of history education

Chapter 8: How useful is history schooling?

Chapter 9: Threats to judgment: ignorance and bias

Chapter 10: Taking the vision to school

Epilogue: The dance of destiny

Future-Focused History Teaching: Restoring the Power of Historical Learning

Reaction to Future-Focused History Teaching:

"The tragedy of typical history instruction is not just that we forget it, but that it is so forgettable. Mike Maxwell's thoughtful prescription: Principles drawn from history that speak to today and tomorrow."

     –David Perkins, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"Not for nothing are we known as the United States of Amnesia. This book makes a great case for bringing the study of history back to the center of our educational system—and offers valuable suggestions on how best to teach history's lessons."

     –Stephen Kinzer, former foreign correspondent for the New York Times, 

      author of histories including OverthrowAll the Shah's Men, and The Brothers

"Mike Maxwell's book contains copious wisdom and provides food for thought for history teachers everywhere. It is impossible not to be stimulated by its provocative insights about how the history classroom can prepare us for the future. You may not agree with everything in this book. But one thing's for sure: You will not be bored by it."

     –Sam Wineburg, Director, History Eduction Group, Stanford University Graduate School of Education

A review of Future-Focused History Teaching

from veteran history educator Jim Smith

Former journalist and history teacher Mike Maxwell has been operating the Student's Friend website since 2001.

In addition to writing Future-Focused History Teaching, he is the author of The Student's Friend Concise World History, now available as a book.

To learn more about future-focused history, visit the blog.

To learn more about the book, or to to order, visit

Mike Maxwell, history educator

"Pithy Quotes" about history education

from Future-Focused History Teaching

Also by Mike Maxwell:

The Student's Friend Concise World History

more information

available from Amazon

The Student's Friend: a concise history ot the world and world history textbook