How – What it Means to Teach History – Has Changed

History the Way We Used to Learn It:

“We were told that history is a large body of indisputable facts about people, places, laws, wars, events, and, most importantly, dates. Teachers and textbooks sought to make the past familiar, not foreign. They taught us that learning history was like learning any other subject, with repeated exposure and forced concentration we would remember… The better we remembered those facts, the better we were at history.”

“The problem with this vision of history is that it fundamentally misrepresents the discipline. History is not akin to stamp collecting. Answering a history question is not like solving a chemistry problem. ‘Doing history’ is not passive. It is not simply memorizing and sequencing facts.”

“History is a discipline of inquiry and analysis. ‘Doing history’ is an active process of asking good questions about the past, finding and analyzing sources, and drawing conclusions supported by the evidence.”

Excerpted from: Mandell, Nikki, and Bobbie Malone. Thinking like a Historian : Rethinking History Instruction : A Framework to Enhance and Improve Teaching and Learning. Madison, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2007. Print. (3)

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