When School Districts Do Not Understand Historical Thinking

An Albany, New York teacher was placed on leave and will face disciplinary action and possible termination because she/he asked students to try to understand the mentality of the Nazis during the Holocaust.  Here was the writing assignment that the teacher gave to his/her high school English students: For the following assignment, you need to … Continue reading When School Districts Do Not Understand Historical Thinking

Teaching Historical Thinking to 10th Graders Through Photography

James Miles teaches social studies at West Vancouver Secondary School in Canada.  In this post at the blog of The Historical Thinking Project, he describes an exercise he uses to teach his students continuity and change over time.  Here is the crux of the lesson: After some thought, I planned several lessons on local history … Continue reading Teaching Historical Thinking to 10th Graders Through Photography

Teaching Historical Thinking

“The past is never dead”–William Faulkner “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” Which one of these statements is correct? This is how Peter Seixas and Carla Peck begin there essay “Teaching Historical Thinking.”  Of course both of these statements–Faulkner and Hartley–are correct.  Seixas and Peck write: If Faulkner is right, … Continue reading Teaching Historical Thinking

Valpo Nostalgia, Historical Thinking, and Bob Elder’s US History Survey Course

This morning I Skyped with Bob Elder‘s U.S. History survey course at Valparaiso University.  As many of you know, I taught at Valparaiso from 2000-2002 as a Lilly Fellow  Post-Doctoral Fellow, so I felt a bit nostalgic seeing Bob in action with his class.  (When I taught at Valpo my classroom was located in the … Continue reading Valpo Nostalgia, Historical Thinking, and Bob Elder’s US History Survey Course

What is the Future of Historical Thinking in Schools and Colleges?

According to Craig Thurtell of Ardsley High School (NY), the future of historical thinking is bright. Thurtell attended the recent meeting of the Organization of American Historians in Milwaukee and has written a very thorough analysis of the sessions related to historical pedagogy.  Here is a taste: Teaching students to think like historians may be … Continue reading What is the Future of Historical Thinking in Schools and Colleges?

Historians, Historical Thinking, and Story-Telling

I am singing the praises this morning of Allen Mikaelian’s post at AHA Today, “Historians vs. Evolution: New Book Explains Why Historians Might Have a Hard Time Reaching Wide Audiences, Getting a Date.” The focus of the post is Jonathan Gottshchall’s book The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. (We did a previous post … Continue reading Historians, Historical Thinking, and Story-Telling

John Lukacs and the New Age of Historical Thinking

We are happy to feature a guest book review from Seth Bartee.  In addition to being a faithful reader of “The Way of Improvement Leads Home,” Seth is a Ph.D student in Virginia Tech’s interdisciplinary ASPECT program. (In case you are wondering, ASPECT stands for “Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought).  Seth is … Continue reading John Lukacs and the New Age of Historical Thinking

An Amazing Resource for Teaching Historical Thinking

Have you found Historical Thinking Matters yet?  I just introduced this website to some of my students.  It is the best thing I have seen for teaching pre-service history teachers how to teach historical thinking skills.  The site is yet another digital resource produced by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason … Continue reading An Amazing Resource for Teaching Historical Thinking

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Part XIII

This will be our final post on Sam Wineburg’s Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past. (I have decided not to blog on chapters related to assessment and memory, but I encourage you to read them). I hope you have gleaned something about historical thinking and history teaching from … Continue reading Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Part XIII

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Part XII

In our last post on Sam Wineburg’s Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts we met Elizabeth, “the invisible teacher.” Today we meet John, “the visible teacher.” While Elizabeth liked to sit in the back of the room and watch her students debate, John never stops talking. He is constantly moving around the room firing questions … Continue reading Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Part XII

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Part XI

In Chapter 7 of Sam Wineburg’s Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past he starts off with a quote from the 1987 National Assessment of Educational Progress Report. In that report, Diane Ravitch and Chester Finn describe the “typical history classroom as one in which students… listen to the … Continue reading Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Part XI

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts–Part X

We continue with Chapter Six of Sam Wineburg’s Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past: “Peering at History Through Difference Lenses.” In the last post we met four novice teachers: Cathy, Bill, Jane, and Fred. You can get up to speed here. Wineburg’s argument in this chapter is that … Continue reading Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts–Part X

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts–Part IX

In Chapter Six of Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past, Sam Wineburg, with the aid of Suzanne M. Wilson, “peer at history through different lenses.” The chapter focuses on four new teachers. All of them were trained in the same teacher education program, but not all of them … Continue reading Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts–Part IX

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts–Part VIII

In Chapter Five of Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past, Sam Wineburg addresses the role of “cultural assumptions in the learning of history.” Several studies have shown that boys are superior to girls in historical knowledge. Why? Part of the reason, Wineburg argues, is because textbooks pay little … Continue reading Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts–Part VIII

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts–Part VII

I still use Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery-American Freedom in my colonial America course. Morgan’s book is still, in my opinion, the best historical narrative of early Virginia. (The students love it!) I also like Morgan because he offers my students a great lesson in contextualization, especially in regards to race. Morgan teaches us that “racism” … Continue reading Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts–Part VII

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts–Part VI

We continue our series of blog posts on Sam Wineburg’s Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past. In Chapter Three, “On the Reading of Historical Texts: The Breach Between School and Academy,” Wineburg compares the way high school students and historians read texts. He starts by giving a group … Continue reading Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts–Part VI

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts–Part V

We continue our series of blog posts on Sam Wineburg’s Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past. Chapter Two, “The Psychology of Teaching Learning History,” is a rather technical chapter. It is also the chapter that will be most foreign to historians. Wineburg introduces us to scholarship on how … Continue reading Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts–Part V