Working with Sources – Source Matrix

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: History, World History
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Addressing the three A’s Towards a systematic approach to answering source-based questions

What should school history be doing? • Pupils should emerge from a history course “knowing” some history. Content is still important and should not be seen as less important than skills. The important issue here is getting the balance between breadth and depth right and avoiding the sort of obsession with factual minutiae which informed much old-style history teaching. Wineburg gives the example of a teacher who was upset that his student did not know that “342 chests” of tea had been thrown into Boston harbour during the Boston Tea Party • History is an excellent place to teach certain generic skills such as the marshalling of evidence to support an argument. • Very importantly History should be about exposing learners to skills which are specifically historical. A major focus of this is getting learners to work with authentic, preferably primary, source material, so that they emerge with the sobering realisation that the past is very complex and difficult to reveal accurately and that most sources are “tainted” to some degree

Working with Sources •

Tosh, John with Lang, Sean – The Pursuit of History, Aims, methods and new directions in the study of history, 4th Edition, Pearson Education Limited, Harlow, England, 2006

Pg 91 … the primary sources are not an open book, offering instant answers. They may not be what they seem to be; they may signify very much more than is immediately apparent; they may be couched in obscure and antiquated forms which are meaningless to the untutored eye. Before the historian can properly assess the significance of a document, he or she needs to find out how, when and why it came into being. This requires the application of both supporting knowledge and sceptical intelligence. ‘Records’, it has been said, ‘like the little children of long ago, only speak when they are spoken to, and they will not talk to strangers’. Nor, it might be added, will they be very forthcoming to anyone in a tearing hurry. Even for the experienced historian with green fingers, research in the primary sources is time-consuming; for the novice it can be painfully slow.

Source Matrix

Working with the Source Matrix • • •

Example from November 2008 Problems of contextualisation. Key Question: How did the Berlin Wall intensify Cold War tensions in Europe? Better alternative: What factors led to the building of the Berlin Wall? Students told: The following source was part of an interview that was conducted with Charles Wheeler, a West German citizen. He gives his views on the conditions which prevailed in East Berlin and West Berlin in the early 1960s. Adapted from war/interviews

Working with the Source Matrix • • • • •

How the source should have been contextualised: From the National Security Archives of the George Washington University Wheeler was a BBC correspondent As a foreign correspondent he had no access to East Berlin. In the interview he is describing conditions at the time of the Berlin Riots in 1953. The interview was part of a National Security Archives oral history project and was conducted with Wheeler in May 1996.

Source Matrix

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Source Matrix

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