KathrynG's Response

1. Levesque essentially argues that students need to learn how to think historically before they can understand history and practice it. He argues that there is a difference between procedural history and content based history. That is to say, there is a process to analyzing historical evidence which allows historians to make meaning and craft a significant historical narrative. In some ways it is the difference between objectivist history, where the facts speak for themselves, vs. later styles of history which dig into different viewpoints and perspectives.

2. Levesque's understanding of how students can learn to do history is fairly similar to Wineburg's but with certain key differences. Levesque's five concepts of historical inquiry, namely, historical significance, continuity and change, progress and decline, evidence, and historical empathy, are essentially tools to teach the kind of historical thinking which Wineburg points out does not come naturally. Both Wineburg and Levesque seem to argue that we shouldn't consider the blatant racism of the past to be racism because of its context, which I disagree with. Historical empathy ought to extend to aborigines and Black people as well as to white people.

3. I think experiential learning is essential to doing history. Its good to have an understanding of the types of questions historians ask before doing an assignment, but students ought to get an opportunity to make their own historical arguments as soon as possible. That is the best way to understand why historians think the way that they do.

Comments

CourtneyH said:

Hi Kathryn,

In your answer to question 2, you pull out the idea of contextualizing racism and how you disagree. As both Wineburg and Levesque talk about empathizing with the past, how do you think that should be handled differently? Is there a place for empathizing with white racists, or do you feel there are unchanging standards which historians should apply to the study of the past?

I agree with you as well that experiential learning is key to developing students' ability to think like historians. You mention that you think students should be able to make their own historical arguments as soon as possible. How does that differ from Levesque's arguments, or does it compliment them? I agree that students should be able to argue their own conclusions, but I do think walking students through the process is the best way to do that. As we saw with Wineburg, it's too easy for students to miss steps in the process of analysis. I like that Levesque's structure allows for students to work at their own pace, through their own lens, so that they can draw their own conclusions.

AlexandraR said:

Hi Kathryn,

In response to your answer to question 3, I agree that experiential learning is essential within a classroom. But what ways do you think history teachers should approach and familiarize students with experiential learning? After completing the reading, I particularly liked the idea of teachers giving students contemporary and familiar sources, allowing students a greater grasp of the concept of the period, so they can focus more on formulating an argument.