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Learning Historical Thinking. Background “To think historically is essentially to be a critical thinker when it comes to the study of history.” Peter.

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Presentation on theme: "Learning Historical Thinking. Background “To think historically is essentially to be a critical thinker when it comes to the study of history.” Peter."— Presentation transcript:

1 Learning Historical Thinking

2 Background “To think historically is essentially to be a critical thinker when it comes to the study of history.” Peter Seixas, University of British Columbia

3 6 Concepts of Historical Thinking  Significance  Evidence  Continuity & Change  Cause & Consequence  Historical Perspective-taking  The Moral Dimension (Judgment)

4 Significance  How do we make judgments about what events in history are important? What criteria is used to judge significance?  This is the work of historians and they must employ historical thinking to determine significance.

5 Aspects of Significance  Prominence of the event at the time  Consequences (resulting in change)  Deep consequence for many people over a long period of time  Revealing  Does the event explain something about later events or the present?  Occupies a key place in a meaningful narrative

6 Aspects of Evidence Problem: The past is gone  How do we know about the past? Primary & secondary documents ( traces & accounts )  How do we decide what to believe about the past? Learning to critically analyze accounts from the past is an important skill to develop. Ask yourself – is this credible? Does this person’s account match up with other individuals’ accounts? Is this secondary source based in part on primary sources? ??????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????

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8 Continuity and Change  Change and continuity are on-going and ever present  Change can occur at different rates  Change and continuity can be both positive and negative (e.g. progress & decline)  Comparisons can be made between points of history and between the past and the present

9 The IBM 7094, a typical mainframe computer [photo courtesy of IBM]

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11 Cause & Consequence  Events have a myriad of different and often unappreciated causes  Prior events may have no casual influence on subsequent events  Looking for broad underlying factors is more important (often) than identifying immediate specific causes of an event  Actions have unintended consequences

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13 Historical Perspective  Presentism is the opposite of historical perspective. Presentism is when you examine the past through today’s understandings (values, norms, technological understanding)  The goal, when thinking historically, is to avoid presentism.

14 Moral Judgment  Moral Judgments are a particular kind of evaluative (or value) judgment  Moral judgments about the past must be sensitive to historical content/context  There is value in withholding moral judgments until adequate information has been acquired  Determining cause is different from assigning responsibility

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17 What does this photo tell us about schools in NB around 1870? What kinds of information about schools is not included in the drawing? What Questions does the drawing raise? What kinds of sources might provide more information about schools in NB at that time?

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19 Thinking historically …  Make inferences about life around town at that time  Consider the societal, economic, & technological environment  Compare with photos of the same place today  Identify a list of things that have changed and stayed the same


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