What does it take to be a historian?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Rockguykev, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Next year I've decided to really focus in on skills as opposed to trivial facts with my history classes. I've always tried to do this but in really evaluating myself I still have tilted toward to the "make sure they know stuff" side of things instead of the "make sure they know how to know stuff" side.

    So, I'm trying to make a list of skills a historian uses or should have. I'm trying to keep them to one-word titles for simplicity's sake. On each assignment we do I want to be able to point out which of these skills are required or will be built up by it.

    So far I have:
    Research (looking stuff up)
    Analysis (interpreting information)
    Technology (using a computer to retrieve or present findings)
    Recreate (use art to remake past events or objects)
    Empathy (put yourself in another person's shoes)

    What else might one add?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Justify
    Evaluate
    Draw Conclusions
    Make Judgments
     
  4. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    Write. They must be able to write in a coherant fashion. Historians do a lot of writing.
     
  5. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Point of View or Bias (understanding how point of view/bias affects the recording of history)
     
  6. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Write and discuss and debate with each other... Have you read the book Classroom Instruction That Works? I think you might get some really good things from it. This company and Marzano have published several books since this one came out in 2001 to enhance the original. Lots of good stuff there that might give you some good ideas.
     
  7. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    You might also include: discovery, cataloging, organizing, interpreting, teaching, publishing
     
  8. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Rhetoric
    Argument
     
  9. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    The ability to take a smaller aspect of history or culture, and use it as a lens through which to view a larger movement or time period. For example, the sport of basketball, and it's relationship to the urbanization of America at the turn of the century or the early origins of the Boy Scout movement and the closing of the frontier. (The latter was my senior project in college.)
     
  10. TeachingHistory

    TeachingHistory Companion

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    This is kind of mixed in with the others already suggested but... Cause and Effect or Connecting Events
     
  11. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Creating a thesis and researching it.

    This falls under analysis, I am taking a material cultures course right now and I think it is great when students can use real artifacts instead of just text to learn. And of course anything can be a real historical artifact - you can even have them bring something in.

    Restoration and excavating/field work would be another side of history kids don't often see that might be interesting. I don't think a lot of kids think history is hands-on.
     
  12. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Thanks for all the ideas. The hard part now is going to be narrowing the list downto a managable number but that is a good problem to have!

    I absolutely agree that the working with artifacts part is sorely missing from our classrooms. We've done quite a bit to rectify that at our site and frankly is what led me to this stage. I want to be able to point out to students what skills they are using when they do things like analyze an artifact.
     
  13. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    First of all you have to have some history:p
     
  14. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Relate, Connect
     
  15. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Our technology changes so fast that we often forget to document OUR artifacts. Something like a landline rotary phone with a cord is obsolete but shaped our culture in so many ways - but we don't see it as a historical artifact. Maybe they could start with something like that - document an artifact that will be obsolete by the time you have children.
     
  16. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Rockguy, I bet you could implement Silverspoon's ideas just by going yard-saling or to a junk shop.

    Get a typewriter. Get an old phone. Get a cash register, a can with a pull top, an apple-peeler, an old egg beater.

    Some folks in KY have created a History Lab system where students have to interpret objects using what they know. I hear it's a great success.

    One way to narrow your focus is to think about what historians *do* professionally. That is: historians work at universities and their most important professional activity is research. They produce knowledge.

    So the things the "do" (in the sense you mean) all relate to the knowledge the produce. They ask questions, find answers, match analysis and evidence, then write about their conclusions and evaluate the written conclusions of others.
     
  17. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    When you do narrow it down, consider an acronym as a mnemonic device.
     
  18. old_School

    old_School Rookie

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    This is something I honestly want to consider going back to school for someday. I love American History. I workship the ground the history books lay on. Favorite war to discuss is WWI. Perhapps the most important war in our history.
     
  19. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Jun 13, 2011

    Great stuff, Kev...I got the same idea when on the last day of school after finals, my students and I cleaned out some of my old stuff in the storage cabinets. I found old issues of Time or Life and they were absolutely captivated to look at the products from the 40s and 50s. A part of me lamented that they've just sat there all year and the kids were just now getting their hands on them. Now, I'm also trying to figure out how to use them in class! Good luck with everything.
     
  20. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Rockguykev, a fine list of historical skills and abilities is in the subtest description for every one of the CSET Social Science subtests, at http://www.cset.nesinc.com under the Test Guides link on the left side of the page.

    The Skills and Abilities list tends to induce panic among test takers - "Oh, no! I need to know this, too???" - but the fact is that these are the crucial mental tools with which we do history.
     
  21. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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  22. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I like it and I think that your students will too.
     
  23. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    I think there's a typo at the top of the page--it says 'skillz'.

    (That, or you are being really hip and cool. ;))
     
  24. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I fixed that on my draft, I do stuff like that to entertain myself and sometimes forget to change it for the final :p
     
  25. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I just got a PBS email with this in it today!

    History Detectives: Yakima Canutt's Saddle, the Ni'ihau Incident, Civil War Cannon
    On-Air | Tuesday, June 21, 8pm
    Grade Range: 6-8, 9-12

    Discover what airplane engine parts tell us about Pearl Harbor, the meaning of a particular cannon to the start of the Civil War, and how a rodeo saddle created our image of the Hollywood cowboy.

    http://video.pbs.org/video/1980771779
     

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