Has History Teaching Really Changed

It seems that the simple act of remembering facts, dates, and events, as been at the core of history teaching over the decades. The early 20th century saw a heavy focus on testing students’ fact based history knowledge with fairly poor results. Testing over the decades have rarely proved to be much better. I think a need to have the results indicate that students “know” these facts keeps driving professionals to focus on this aspect of history teaching. However, I think Wineburg’s reference to the quote doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity is rather fitting.

Standardized testing does not capture or predict historical engagement. This form of history teaching is unengaging and uninteresting. I think however, there is definitely a movement to change the way in which history is taught. Already there has been a major shift to include primary source documents into history teaching, so much so that there is an over abundance of primary source materials to use. This shift has also encouraged the idea of promoting procedural thought and knowledge over content knowledge. However, how successfully this has been done, I think, still remains to be proven. Professor Kelly’s article, The History Curriculum 2023, argues that content knowledge has its place, however history teaching has continued to remain an unengaging environment for many students. I think the themes of this particular article (making, mining, marking, and mashing) provide a modern approach to counter act these previous practices.

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