Connections Essay Historical Thinking
Students spend a majority of their time learning about the "what" of history -- major events, important themes, and influential historical figures. To quote one such historical figure in a very different context, it is all together fitting and proper that we should do this. Historical thinking asks students to consider the "how" of history. How do historians take the raw evidence of history - primary sources created by those who lived in the past -- and construct the narratives that we encounter in books, museums, historical sites, and history textbooks? As you've learned, historians consider who created a source and for what purpose especially in light of the historical context in which the source was created. Historians also seek out multiple accounts and consider their varied perspectives in order to better understand the past. In our present day world that values speed and quick thinking, historical thinking can seem quite slow. Historians carefully examine sources, ponder odd details or inconsistencies, and make connections that sometimes turn out to be wild goose chases. If historians are detectives it often seems like we're more like the rumpled, TV detective Colombo asking about "just one more thing" rather than the razor sharp Sherlock Holmes.
The purpose of teaching historical thinking in the classroom isn't really to prepare students to become future historians (although that would be wonderful too!). Historical thinking teaches students another way to gain understanding about the world around the them. To thoughtfully consider the perspectives of others, to allow that one account may have part of the story but not necessarily the whole story. It teaches them to not simply dismiss a source as biased but instead think about how that bias might affect how the person sees the world. Utilizing the techniques outlined in the lesson, KWL charts, the SCIM-C method with primary sources can help achieve the ultimate goal of historical thinking: to train students to think about the world around them in a new critical way.
Review your Rethink and read through the Connections Essay below.