A Comparative Study on Primary Pupils' Historical Questioning Processes in Turkey and England: Empathic, Critical and Creative Thinking

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study is part of a larger ongoing Project. In this project, the documents (video recordings and transcripts) which were collected by the recording of history lessons that were taught in different countries, have been analyzed in order to identify ways in which children are involved in historical enquiry rather than didactic teaching, as a basis for comparison, discussion and development. According to the project aim, in this study, history lessons taught in a primary school in Turkey and in England were comparatively analyzed. In the Turkish lesson, pupils work in groups to interpret information in texts, maps and pictures, in order to reconstruct events surrounding the Battle of Ankara in poetry, art, drama and music. In the English lesson, children found out about Ancient Egypt's ways of daily life, also working in groups. The data gathered from these lessons -through a case study in England and an action research in Turkey- were recorded via video and the video recordings were transcribed. The documents were analyzed through document and descriptive analyses. The analysis explores ways in which pupils extract information, transfer it to new contexts and express it from different viewpoints. It shows how, in discussing sources, pupils gradually become independent of adult support, spontaneously use special vocabulary introduced by the teacher in new contexts and use causal vocabulary. It is concluded that pupils are engaged in the process of historical enquiry to the extent that, in an embryonic way, they explore the past, interrogate sources to construct interpretations which include presenting the information from different perspectives and developing arguments, using specialised vocabulary. The significance of classroom organisation and ethos in developing historical enquiry is considered.

Key Words

History Teaching, Turkey, England, Historical Resources, Collaborative Learning

The current approach to the discipline of history emphasises that historical enquiry involves asking questions about different kinds of sources, in order to make deductions and inferences about the past (Collingwood, 1939), and so learning that, because evidence is often incomplete and of varying status, and is selected and combined to construct accounts of the past, interpretations may vary but be equally valid. This process underpins the new history teaching, which has been a common approach for some time.

Below we will briefly explain the new history teaching approach and its main principles that may help to interpret our research findings.

New History Approach and Use of Sources

The process mentioned above is used not only by historians but also by history educators. Because there is no unique perspective of history (see Jenkins, 1997) the discourse of history is the interpretation of historians, in which they reflect their thoughts and perspectives (Karabag, 2002), as well as historical facts. There is no single, correct view of the past. These arguments are agreed not only by historians but also by specialist history teachers. Recently, there has been a 'constructivist' approach, reflecting the relation to the 'procedural' discipline of historical enquiry. This has been called "new history teaching". It includes the use of sources, enquiring, interpreting and comparing, solving historical problems ...etc. and is adopted widely in Europe. According to numbers at top, Stradling (2003, s. viii) emphasizes the importance of students developing a critical approach to historical facts and findings. And that they should learn and apply thinking skills that are important in terms of historical consciousness and interpretation.

According to Nichol, "to get pupils to 'Do History' in the round, the Nuffield Primary History Project established seven principles: challenge, questioning, depth, authentic sources, economy, accessibility and communication" (cited in Yapici, 2006, pp. …