Thinking Like a Historian: Rethinking History Instruction

Wed 16 2008

Are students ever too young to start learning to think like historians? Not according to the historians and educators working through the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, to develop Thinking Like a Historian: Rethinking History Instruction. Written materials and accompanying DVD demonstrate how educators always teach critical thinking to students of all grade levels.

"History as I learned it in the classroom had a lot to do with memorization of facts," explains Dr. Nikki Mandell of the University of Wisconsin. What Thinking like a Historian helps us do as historians and teachers is to help understand how those names facts and figures fit into historical knowledge. They are not history in and of themselves. They need to lead us to interpretation of what matters and why it matters."

The Thinking Like a Historian video demonstrates classroom applications of instructional techniques. Extensive emphasis on teaching methodology and student response in elementary and middle school classrooms gives this pedagogical tool added value. Both text and video can be ordered or viewed online.

About the Author

Lee Ann Ghajar is a digital history associate in Public Projects at CHNM and a PhD candidate in American history at George Mason University.