MELC/BLC Demonstration Project Fall 1996

Bruce A. VanSledright

Timothy Slekar



"Best Practice" Attributes for Teaching History



Knowledge of the Discipline


The history teacher possesses:


—Deep Knowledge of Disciplinary Content and Issues

—Knowledge of available evidence/sources on particular topics/events/issues

—Knowledge of the credibility of source material (validity/reliability)

—Knowledge of evidence-use rules

—Understanding of multiple causation

—Knowledge of debates surrounding different sources (bias and subtext issues)

—Capacity to develop and work from multiple event models



View of History (epistemological/knowledge framework):


The history teacher views:


—Historical knowledge as indeterminate, slippery, interpretive

—The relationship between evidence and assertion as tentative

—Viable alternative interpretations as almost always available

—Healthy skepticism about historical knowledge claims as important

—Historical writing as influenced as much by authors' frames of reference, bias,

and purposes as by the evidence itself



Pedagogy/Pedagogical Content Knowledge:


The history teacher:


—Generally, pursues inquiry-based (questioning knowledge claims, text bias, assertions) learning

—Attempts to formulate deep understandings of history, and works from big ideas

—Uses rich, multiple resources

—sees his/her role as coach, facilitator, or mediator (as opposed to deliverer,

presenter, or transmitter)

—Raises and debates issues around content, evidence, knowledge claims

—Uses multiple representational forms

—Works from and cultivates multiple viewpoints on events

—Chooses sources thoughtfully


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