Sunday, October 27, 2013

Part I - Why Study History?

By distancing himself from the current arguments over which history to teach, Wineburg, in part I, offers instead to focus on "Why teach/study history"? By examining the gap between thoughtful readers and history readers, Wineburg relays how critical it is to have students use greater meta-cognition in their reading and understanding of history. By illustrating the way students encounter source material, he is able to construct how good students interact with source material versus how historians interact with that material. Additionally in chapter 2, Wineburg traces the history and literature of teaching and learning, which provide a broad context for they way history is often taught.

Questions to consider for discussion:
1. Wineburg makes this case for teaching history in school: "history holds the potential, only partly realized, of humanizing us in ways offered by few other areas in the school curriculum" (5).  Do you agree with Wineburg's rationale for history education?

2. Wineburg spends time discussing the important questions that students and historians ask themselves when reading documents. What questions do you think are most significant when reading historical documents, by themselves, and in conjunction with other documents?

3. Consider Wineburg's argument on unicorns and the rhinoceros. 

Perspective matters: When thinking historically one must simultaneously acknowledge the familiarity and strangeness of the past. Studying history requires us to view the past in its own context. Other wise it is as if looking at a rhinoceros and describing how it is unlike the unicorn you imagined in your mind. Do you agree with this notion of historical perspective?

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