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Becoming a History Teacher

Becoming a History Teacher: Sustaining Practices in Historical Thinking and Knowing

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Becoming a History Teacher
    Book Description:

    A revolution in history education is propelling historical thinking and knowing to the forefront of history and social studies education in North America and beyond. Teachers, teacher education programs, schools, and ministries of education across Canada are all among those embracing the idea that knowing history means knowing how to think historically.

    Becoming a History Teacheris a collection of thoughtful essays by history teachers, historians, and teacher educators on how to prepare student teachers to think historically and to teach historical thinking. Covering the teacher's experience before, during, and after formal certification,Becoming a History Teachercontains a wide range of resources for teachers and educators, including information on the latest research in history education and examples of successful history teaching activities.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1924-1
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. PART I: Introduction

    • 1 Introduction
      (pp. 3-10)

      A revolution in history education in recent years is propelling historical thinking and knowing to the forefront of history and social studies education in North America and beyond. Teachers, university teacher education programs, schools, and ministries of education across Canada are among those embracing a newly championed approach to history teaching and learning, one that promises to supplement the wide range of pedagogical strategies and practices that experienced teachers have in their history-related repertoire, and to replace what many critics believe is an overreliance on rote learning and memorization with the richer and deeper disciplinary understanding that comes from knowing...

    • 2 Moving from the Periphery to the Core: The Possibilities for Professional Learning Communities in History Teacher Education
      (pp. 11-29)

      Imagine you have signed up for a course titled Hockey 101. You show up at the first class with your skates, hockey stick, and a genuine enthusiasm to get started. The instructor gives you a strange look and asks why you have brought this paraphernalia to class. Stunned, you respond that you are eager to begin playing the game. The instructor smiles at your naiveté and explains rather condescendingly that you won’t be playing hockey in the class but rather learning about hockey: studying the development of the game over time, learning the rules, and reading biographies of the best...

    • 3 “The Teacher Is the Keystone of the Educational Arch”: A Century and a Half of Lifelong Teacher Education in Canada
      (pp. 30-59)

      This chapter provides historical context as a means to situate other chapters in the collection, most of which examine specific programs and initiatives in particular provinces from a contemporary perspective. Due to the provincial autonomy over education granted in the British North America Act of 1867, approaches to teacher education vary province by province, although there are also commonalities. This chapter will explore pre-service and in-service teacher education, using examples from all provinces, but particular emphasis will be placed on Ontario and British Columbia.

      As provinces established their government infrastructures, including educational bureaucracies, teacher preparation moved from ad hoc approaches...

    • 4 The Poverty and Possibility of Historical Thinking: An Overview of Recent Research into History Teacher Education
      (pp. 60-74)

      This chapter discusses recent research on history and social studies teacher education and its effect on practice in Canada. Many of the studies summarized here are international, and indicate the extent to which Canadian scholars have been influenced by research conducted in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia in particular. While the focus is on studies examining instruction-enhancing practices, relevant research in social studies teacher education is included because history is taught within the context of social studies courses in many provinces in Canada.

      An analysis of previous literature reviews highlights general shifts within history and social studies...

  6. PART II: Nurturing Historical Thinking before Entering a Teacher Education Program


      • 5 On Historians and Their Audiences: An Argument for Teaching (and Not Just Writing) History
        (pp. 77-90)

        Collectively, historians’ work consists of constructing, deconstructing, and reconstructing a vast edifice of knowledge about the past, the generalizations and syntheses about which will vary according to the purposes of the historians and the audiences to whom they are directing any particular manifestation of their work. Notwithstanding the tendency of historians to identify their “real” historical work and their “real” audiences exclusively with their research and writing rather than with their teaching – particularly their undergraduate teaching – I am going to begin by arguing that historians “do” history as much in their teaching as they do in their scholarly...

      • 6 Canadian History for Teachers: Integrating Content and Pedagogy in Teacher Education
        (pp. 91-112)

        Canadian teacher educators, like their international colleagues, have grappled with the complex question of how best to transform history teaching in schools. Curriculum reforms across Canada, grounded in recent research in history teaching, urge a shift away from the transmission of historical information towards the cultivation of historical ways of thinking. These reforms reflect the belief that “history is the most sophisticated way we currently have of knowing about and organizing the past, and that it attempts to meet certain criteria.”¹ They require that history teaching facilitate students’ ability to reason in the discipline, understand its core concepts, and apply...

  7. PART III: History and Social Studies Teacher Education Programs in Canada


      • 7 What Is the Use of the Past for Future Teachers? A Snapshot of Francophone Student Teachers in Ontario and Québec Universities
        (pp. 115-138)

        What role does the past play in the lives of history student teachers? Do they see teachers as reliable sources of information about the past? How does history help define their teaching practice? Student teachers face a critical task. Throughout their history education programs, they are encouraged by their professors to nurture a professional learning community and develop as practitioners of the discipline. At the same time, they eagerly venture into the practice of the classroom where issues of acculturation, conformity, discipline, and efficiency often put them on an outbound trajectory, as if the domains of history and schooling were...

      • 8 Through the Looking Glass: An Overview of the Theoretical Foundations of Quebec’s History Curriculum
        (pp. 139-157)

        In his chapter “Moving from the Periphery to the Core: The Possibilities for Professional Learning Communities in History Teacher Education,” Alan Sears notes that student teachers have:

        … little or no actual experience with the processes they will be teaching and, therefore, probably aren’t very good at them themselves; as well, in my view much more importantly, the candidates have a strong cognitive frame that history teaching essentially involves the passing on of historical information and not the fostering of historical thinking.¹

        This situation holds true in Quebec, as elsewhere in Canada. Many student teachers experience a discrepancy between the...

      • 9 Troubling Compromises: Historical Thinking in a One-Year Secondary Teacher Education Program
        (pp. 158-174)

        History and social studies educators in Canada generally accept the idea that student teachers should emerge from their pre-service programs with an understanding of history as an active, knowledge-generating process rather than a passive absorption of stories about the past – however well told or well written by others.¹ This idea is now a fundamental part of the Canadian history education discussion.² Nevertheless, teacher education programs – like school curricula – are battlegrounds for competitions over time and resources. History has to carve its place in multidisciplinary social studies.³ And the social studies methods courses too often find themselves in...

      • 10 Engaging Teacher Education through Rewriting That History We Have Already Learned
        (pp. 175-197)

        How might we use historical perspective, or, more accurately, multiple historical perspectives to address a number of issues facing teacher education in general and history education more specifically? These issues include teacher education’s limited influence on future classrooms dominated by expectations for coverage and control practices, the depoliticized manner in which we currently take up the “historical” in teacher education, and the regnant form of knowledge as a thing valuable only to the extent it can be exchanged for preferred material and symbolic positioning within the vulture capitalist machinations increasingly dominating school-university spaces.¹

        While these are related issues, I primarily...

      • 11 “Walking the Talk”: Modelling the Pedagogy We Profess in History and Social Studies Methodology Courses
        (pp. 198-213)

        David Livingstone is reported to have said that teaching by example is not the best way – it is the only way. Robert Blume wrote, “Teachers teach as they are taught, and not as they are taught to teach.”¹ This advice must be taken seriously if methodology instructors hope to affect how their students teach when they eventually reach their own classrooms. Unfortunately, scant attention has been paid to the role of university-based methodology instructors in the widely reported inadequate state of history and social studies teaching in Canadian elementary and secondary schools.² Surprisingly, relatively few studies document how teacher...


      • 12 Teaching Student Teachers to Use Primary Sources When Teaching History
        (pp. 214-225)

        Throughout the past century, one of the recurring themes for reformers in history education has been the importance of using primary sources to teach history.¹ In the last four decades, a growing body of research in educational psychology and history education has focused on theories, practices, and strategies for using primary sources effectively to teach history.² By 2005 it could be stated that belief in the importance of using primary sources for teaching history had achieved a degree of orthodoxy among history and social studies educators.³ Reproductions of millions of primary sources have become widely available online for free, or...

      • 13 Learning to Learn in New Brunswick Teacher Preparation: Historical Research as a Vehicle for Cultivating Historical Thinking in the Context of Social Studies Education
        (pp. 226-234)

        This chapter describes an experiment in history teacher education that took place within the broader educational context of social studies teacher preparation at the University of New Brunswick. The experiment was premised on the supposition that a robust understanding of the relationship between historical thinking and both the teaching and learning of history demands discussion about, and immersion in, authentic historical research, and that this an appropriate social studies approach. As Alan Sears suggests in this collection, student teachers mustdohistory in order to challenge the dominant world view that identifies history teaching with a mechanistic transmission of knowledge...

      • 14 When in Doubt, Ask: Student Teacher Insights into Research and Practice
        (pp. 235-246)

        Student teachers who are hoping to teach history in the secondary school system in Ontario enter professional teacher education programs with a minimum of subject knowledge guaranteed by admission standards. They emerge as newly qualified teachers who are expected to have developed a broad range of teaching skills and habits of mind. These include a desire to find out about the students and the school in which they will teach, a solid grasp of instructional methods, knowledge of the factors influencing how they will teach, and the habit of reflecting on their actions and on those of their students.


  8. PART IV: Boundary Work:: Sustaining Communities of Practice


      • 15 Can Teacher Education Programs Learn Something from Teacher Professional Development Initiatives?
        (pp. 249-268)
        CARLA L. PECK

        My answer to this question, which was asked by an experienced teacher during a week-long summer institute focused on teaching historical thinking, was short and succinct: “Yes.” A murmur started to creep around the crowded lecture theatre and I could tell that, at least for some in the room, the idea that historical narratives like those in history textbooks are constructions (involving the use of evidence to make decisions about historical significance, analyse continuity and change, or understand historical perspectives) was something new. If history isn’t what is found in textbooks, what is it? This moment clarified for me the...

      • 16 On the Museum as a Practised Place: Or, Reconsidering Museums and History Education
        (pp. 269-282)

        For many, the public museum requires little explanation. As an educational institution, museums are typically seen as the place where exhibitions and displays of objects inform the public about the past, culture, art, and nature. Although public museums have long been aware of their vested educational authority, there remains a general tendency to consider them as sites that disseminate specific knowledge to the public. Furthermore, while within the field of museum studies there is wide recognition of how the museum’s educational role serves a particular, though generally unquestioned intent, there is a general lack of agreement about the extent to...


      • 17 Teaching History Teachers in the Classroom
        (pp. 283-290)

        Alan Sears notes in his chapter in this volume that student teachers “haven’t struggled to define a ‘significant’ and unexplored (or underexplored) question about the past to study, sat with a pile of diverse sources trying to weigh their relative merits … or tried to make judgments about the moral actions of historical agents.”¹ This, he argues, helps to explain why history teachers often replicate the model through which they studied history: the transmission of information through note taking, lectures, PowerPoint, or perhaps documentaries and Hollywood movies. Sears urges us to take seriously the three-stage nature of teacher education: one...

      • 18 Engendering Power and Legitimation: Giving Teachers the Tools to Claim a Place for History Education in Their Schools
        (pp. 291-302)

        The secondary school history and social science department in which I worked had an annual enrolment of approximately one thousand students. The only mandatory history course accounted for a few hundred students; the rest of these history students enrolled in senior-level optional courses. Even more remarkable, in some years we had the highly unusual situation of having more students enrolled in the department than were students in the school. I believe our success as a department was the product of two equally important factors: first, the pedagogical practices taking place in our classrooms; and second, the work we all did...

      • 19 Telling the Stories of the Nikkei: A Place-Based History Education Project
        (pp. 303-312)

        We ask, “How can teachers in a small rural school cultivate students’ historical understandings through a project based on local events?” Over two terms, secondary students in the West Kootenays of British Columbia immersed themselves in “place-based education,” a multi-disciplinary, community-focused exploration of the local internment of 1,400 Canadians of Japanese descent in 1942–1946. The project unfolded as a partnership between the school, two filmmakers, a rural teacher education program, two arts organizations, two museums, and a national website. Given the scope of expertise and resources, it represented the kind of boundary work across professional communities that Alan Sears...

  9. 20 Conclusion
    (pp. 313-320)

    This volume is loosely organized according to the chronology of becoming a history teacher, focusing on three time periods: before, during, and after the formal teacher education and accreditation period of a history teacher’s life. This collection grew out of an attempt by Canadian history teacher educators to share the research, reflections, and teaching practices relating to their work in helping student teachers become excellent history teachers in schools, and these approaches are reflected within each of the book’s chronological sections. However, as the introductory section sets out, chapters across the volume are bound together by some common and vital...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 321-338)
  11. Contributors
    (pp. 339-345)