Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past

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Temple University Press, 2001 - Education - 270 pages
5 Reviews
Since ancient times, the pundits have lamented young people's lack of historical knowledge and warned that ignorance of the past surely condemns humanity to repeating its mistakes. In the contemporary United States, this dire outlook drives a contentious debate about what key events, nations, and people are essential for history students. Sam Wineburg says that we are asking the wrong questions. This book demolishes the conventional notion that there is one true history and one best way to teach it.
Although most of us think of history -- and learn it -- as a conglomeration of facts, dates, and key figures, for professional historians it is a way of knowing, a method for developing and understanding about the relationships of peoples and events in the past. A cognitive psychologist, Wineburg has been engaged in studying what is intrinsic to historical thinking, how it might be taught, and why most students still adhere to the one damned thing after another concept of history.
Whether he is comparing how students and historians interpret documentary evidence or analyzing children's drawings, Wineburg's essays offer rough maps of how ordinary people think about the past and use it to understand the present. Arguing that we all absorb lessons about history in many settings -- in kitchen table conversations, at the movies, or on the world-wide web, for instance -- these essays acknowledge the role of collective memory in filtering what we learn in school and shaping our historical thinking.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - TLCrawford - LibraryThing

When I picked up Samuel Wineburg’s “Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts” I was expecting it to be a historiography and was more than a little disappointed to find that it was more focused on ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ThothJ - LibraryThing

It was a good textbook for my clinical history class. I'm not sure that I would have ever thought to read it, without being induced to do so in a classroom setting. But having done so, I would recommend it to any all secondary and college history teachers. Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts
3
The Psychology of Teaching and Learning History
28
CHALLENGES FOR THE STUDENT
61
On the Reading off Historical Texts Notes on the Breach Between School and Academy
63
Reading Abraham Lincoln A Case Study in Contextualized Thinking
89
Picturing the Past
113
CHALLENGES FOR THE TEACHER
137
Peering at History Through Different Lenses The Role of Disciplinary Perspectives in Teaching History
139
Models of Wisdom in the Teaching of History
155
Wrinkles in Time and Place Using Performance Assessments to Understand the Knowledge of History Teachers
173
HISTORY AS NATIONAL MEMORY
215
Lost in Words Moral Ambiguity in the History Classroom
217
Making Historical Sense in the New Millennium
232
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About the author (2001)

Sam Wineburg is Professor of Cognitive Studies in Education and Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Washington, Seattle.

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