Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reading History

Question: How should one read history?

Answer/Quote: “To encourage meaningful interpretation, we must raise the key questions of the historian—the questions that ask young people to delve into the temporal and spatial relationships intrinsic in any discussion of past events and lives, to hypothesize about cause and effect, to generalize about the ultimate meaning of events, to compare and contrast and to cross-examine evidence. When teachers model the ways of knowing history and raise the key questions of history, students learn to raise similar questions as they read. They learn what is important in reading history.” P. 370. 

Comment: My memories of reading history in high school were to slog from beginning to the end of the chapter through every word, every sentence, every paragraph, drowsing all the way, without any purpose for reading whatever, other than to answer the questions at the end of the chapter which were a recitation of facts. The result? I hated history. Reading history as the historian reads it sounds like a pretty good purpose to me. Having the teacher model how to read history as the historian reads it sounds like pretty good teaching to me. RayS.

 Title: “On Knowing and Reading History.” DG Hennings. Journal of Reading (February 1993), 362-371.

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