CourtneyH's Response

1. Levesque's "threshold concept" is in the separation of content history from procedural history - that students need to learn first how to think historically (based around his five essential questions of historical significance, continuity and change, progress and decline, evidence, and historical empathy) before they can understand the content what actually happened. In separating these pieces of historical study, rather than just stringing facts the past together, students are equipped to evaluate history and why it matters. Incorporating this "threshold concept" transforms the way students understand history and its significance.

2. Levesque and Wineburg both express concern about the way students understand and interact with history. Both emphasize the need for students to learn to think more critically about history (both its evidence and why it matters), and both emphasize the need to better empathize with history. Wineburg proposes a more piecemeal approach to historical learning - offering students historical evidence, facilitating their evaluation of it, and then evaluating their understanding in a more conversational or two-way manner. Levesque offers a much more structured approach for students to evaluate historical evidence through his five essential questions (listed in the answer above). Additionally Levesque seems more comfortable with bringing the present to the past than Wineburg. Although both talk about empathizing with the past, Levesque suggests that it may be helpful for students to begin in the present and work their way to the past in their historical understanding.

3. Levesque's emphasis on experiential learning stems from his recognition of the individual needs, past experiences, and learning styles of various students. Experiential learning allows students to project their own experiences on the past, drawing new inferences, understandings, and conclusions. Levesque emphasizes the importance of asking individualized historical questions as well as focusing on experiential learning. Using these methods together, students are allowed to begin and end in different places with the same historical evidence because they bring their own pasts and experiences to their study. Students can better work at their own pace, learn to think historically, and explore the past through a lens that matters to them. All of this means that students will better incorporate the past into their present, making the study of history more meaningful.


Anonymous said:

I find that Wineburg and Levesque's approach to having students learn the thought process and skills of the historian quite similar as well but think that their "piecemeal" and "experiential learning" approaches are not all that different. Both techniques can be used in a year-long course. The teacher can give both opportunities for the "piecemeal" approach (to develop specific skills and targeted practices) and provide opportunities for "experiential learning" with differentiation and independent learning projects.