Academic journal article High School Journal

A Vision of History Teaching and Learning: Thoughts on History Education in Secondary Schools

Academic journal article High School Journal

A Vision of History Teaching and Learning: Thoughts on History Education in Secondary Schools

Article excerpt

This article presents a vision of effective and pedagogically meaningful history teaching and learning in schools. Bringing to the fore the lack of attention to the philosophy of history, the article first explains the philosophical and epistemological underpinnings of history or the perspectives on the nature of historical knowledge on which the vision is based. It then elucidates what goals history education should strive for, what history should be taught, how history curriculum should be developed, what is expected of teachers in implementing history curriculum, and what qualifications history teachers should possess to effectively practice their profession. It advocates constructivist pedagogy and the disciplinary approach to school history, calling for collaboration between education faculty and historians in the preparation of history teachers.


Any given vision of history education in secondary and high schools is supposed to draw on philosophy of history, different learning theories, the conceptual and empirical works on history education, and the realities of actual social studies or history classrooms. Therefore, the vision of effective and pedagogically meaningful history education offered in this article is based on different schools of historical thought, theoretical frameworks for thinking about teaching and learning, research findings on history education, and the implications of both theoretical and empirical works for the teaching and learning of history in schools.

A vision of history teaching and learning first and foremost necessitates an adequate explanation about one's philosophy of history as a discipline in that epistemological and conceptual frameworks shape and color one's approach to dealing with issues in history education. Hence, I first define history and then elucidate my perspective on the nature of historical knowledge to provide the epistemological and philosophical basis of effective history education in schools.

Definition of History & the Nature of Historical Knowledge

History, as a term, refers not only to what happened in the past but also to the account of the past events, situations, and processes etc. As one of the disciplines among social sciences, history represents accounts of multilayered and multifaceted human experiences across time and space. Historians try to explain what happened in the past by processing primary sources through such historical procedures and skills as selecting a topic, framing questions or hypotheses, corroborating sources, gathering and weighing evidence, building a thesis about the object of the study under investigation, and substantiating the thesis on the basis of logical reasoning, evidential argument, and imaginative thinking or historical empathy.

History teachers need to have a thorough understanding of the nature of history as a domain of knowledge in that epistemological beliefs affect not only their approaches to reading and understanding historical texts but also their instructional practices (Wineburg, 1991a/b; Yilmaz, 2008a). If teachers lack an adequate understanding of the conceptual foundations of the subject they teach, they are likely to misrepresent content by simplifying it (Wineburg & Wilson, 1991, p.333). As Matthews (1998) argued, if teachers are to make effective curricular decisions in enhancing a deeper student engagement with the subject, they should have well-developed conceptions of the nature of their subject area. Last but not least, the need for protecting students from political manipulations of different interest groups necessitates a satisfactory understanding of the nature of history on teachers' part (Yilmaz, 2008a).

There are two sharply contrasting perspectives on the nature of historical knowledge. These are idealist and scientific views of history. While historians who stick to the former view, history as an art, are called idealist or autonomist, those historians who advocate the latter perspective, history as a science, are called scientist or assimilationist. Embracing a holistic approach rather than a dualist approach, I see the debate over the nature of history as resting on a continuum. From my standpoint, the perspectives of "idealist" and "scientist" historians represent two ends of the continuum of historical tradition. I believe that one does not have to identify his position with either pole. My own viewpoint on the nature of history is not fixed but remains closer to the art rather than the science end of the continuum.

I see history more as an art than as a science in that history has a lot more to do with art than science in terms of the way the historian reconstructs or interprets historical events. The past itself or historical data do not have meaning in themselves. The past is composed of countless numbers of disconnected historical facts. As such, it is formless and gains meaning and form only through the historian's ability to imagine and to see the past events and situations from the viewpoints of historical agents. Imagination plays a big role in establishing the relationship between disconnected historical facts. Linking a given event to its context or detecting a given historical process demands thoughtful imagination. In addition to imagination, the historian's values and beliefs affect his or her selection of the topic, questions, and interpretations, which is another reason why I see history as an art than a science in terms of its nature.

The ontological status of the object of historical study, the past events, also makes history come closer to the art end of the continuum. As opposed to natural events, historical events do not lend themselves to observation and repeatability because the past has gone. As a corollary, rather than a hypothetic-deductive model of reasoning derived from natural sciences, an inductive along with an abductive model of thinking and thought process is needed for the historian to reconstruct the past. The historian attempts to understand the past by viewing historical events within their contexts through the eyes of the past people. The historian thinks himself or herself into the thoughts, motivations, values, beliefs, and actions of his or her historical agents to be able to discern how historical events developed.

Another reason why I view history as an art has to do with my epistemological stance toward historical knowledge. From epistemological perspective, I view historical knowledge as a human construction. As such, it cannot have any meaning independently of human mind. The nature and function of historical explanations are not fixed but get changed as new evidence and innovative conceptual frameworks make a shift in historians' perceptions of the past. Changes in epistemological, theoretical, philosophical, political, and moral viewpoints inevitably lead to the reinterpretation of historical events and processes. The present circumstances or the historian's concern with the present also influence his or her understanding and interpretation of the past. That is why even though a given historical interpretation can be regarded as right or accurate, it may come to be questioned or replaced by a new, challenging interpretation. Therefore, I endorse the notion that historical knowledge is not absolute and given, but rather open to further interpretation on the basis of shifting discourses of historians. This means that there is not a single correct view of any historical event or process under study, but there are many equally plausible versions or correct views, each requiring its own style of representation via narrative plot structures (Jenkins, 1999, 2003; White, 1987; Ankersmit, 1999, 2001).

It is the very nature of historical knowledge itself that demands not a single but multiple views of the past. Any given event in the past is open to equally correct multiple interpretations. This is because historical knowledge is not value-free but subjective as well as theory-laden, and thus it inevitably reflects a point of view. Other reasons for the equally plausible multiple interpretations of the past also stem from the nature of historical knowledge, which can be summarized as follows: the historian's frame of reference, race, ethnicity, disciplinary orientations, and so forth result in the construction of different explanations about the past events; innovative conceptual frameworks or movements in historiography keep the interpretation of the past changing (i.e., the same historical event can be interpreted from a feminist, cultural, sociological, socialist, Marxist, postmodern, linguistic points of view, etc. That is, conceptual frameworks for thinking about history produce differing interpretations of the past events, each bringing certain historical concepts and forces to the fore in the analysis of the past such as the concept of gender in the case of feminist approach to the past and mode of productions and social conflicts among classes in the case of Marxist or materialist view of history); the use of language, narrative plot structures, literary tropes and verbal structures affect the historian's thoughts and perceptions and thus ultimately shape his or her attempt to construct historical knowledge; and social and cultural climate of the era in which the historian lives affects his or her explanations of past events, people, processes, and institutions (Yilmaz, 2008a, p.161).

I should note that my perspective on historical knowledge or the way historical explanations come into being is guided, to a great extent, by the principles of the linguistic or discursive turn in history. The works of Hayden White, Keith Jenkins, Frank Ankersmit, and Sol Cohen, all of whom are the practitioners of the discursive approach to history, have an impact on my view of history. The linguistic turn with a postmodernist twist postulates that an historical account of any event or process is constrained by the historian's background, conventions of language, genre, mode of emplotment, argument, and cultural or social contextual issues. Historians are affected by the ideology of their times and cannot get rid of their sex, class, ethnicity or cultural background and so on. The historians' exposure to a particular culture during a particular period influences not only their conceptual frameworks but also their selection of the object of the study and interpretation of it. That is, historians' subjectivity, academic training, philosophical outlook, theoretical orientations, ideological positions and socio-cultural backgrounds inevitably come into play in shaping their explanations of the past. As Cohen (1999) argued, historians purposefully attempt to persuade their audience with some sociopolitical or ideological aim in mind. By means of rhetorical conventions and strategies, historians intend to persuade readers that his or her account of the past is truer, more objective, and worthier than another version and this in turn leads readers to develop a particular attitude toward the past and the present and to take particular course of action in the present (Cohen, 1999, p.69).

To sum up, history teachers need to know that history is an interpretive enterprise. Every record of the past is open to multiple interpretations. Any version of history inevitably reflects a particular point of view, comment and judgment. As the products of particular historical circumstances, historical knowledge and accounts are constructed, interpreted, and tentative in nature.

Purposes for teaching history

If the teacher has not yet built a strong sense of why history is taught, he or she is unlikely to make reasoned and informed decisions about planning, implementing and assessing history curriculum and instruction. Hence, history teachers should have a clear conception of what purposes history should serve in the culture and society in which they live. Because of the centrality of such awareness to the teaching and learning of history, I explore the most important goals and purposes of history education.

History teaching needs to be viewed from a broader perspective within the context of social studies education in that history as a school subject represents one strand of social studies curriculum. So, it is reasonable to expect the goals of social studies education to underlie the purposes for teaching history. Social studies as a school subject aims to promote social understanding and civic efficacy on the part of students who are going to take the office of citizenship. More specifically, the fundamental goal of teaching social studies in secondary schools is to help students become responsible, critical, reflective, and active citizens who can make informed and reasoned decisions about the societal issues confronting the local, state, and global community respectively (NCSS, 1993). Students are expected to identify and act upon societal problems of different sorts for the common and individual good.

Students' attainment of those expectations depends, to a large extent, on the historical skill of critically evaluating not only information but also the logical and evidential bases of an argument or a thesis. Students need to be acquainted with the historical methodology to help facilitate the effective decision making skills needed in life outside the classroom walls. To that end, school history should be aimed at developing students' historical thinking and reasoning skills by providing them with historical knowledge, procedures, and skills, by means of which they as young citizens can distinguish facts from opinions; detect biases, prejudices, and unwarranted claims; weigh contrasting evidence; recognize the core of one's argument and its logic along with the strength of evidence; and critically evaluate other's positions and perspectives.

Once students' historical thinking skills--which are applicable and transferable to everyday affairs and problems - are developed and enhanced, students are likely to recognize when they are exploited and manipulated by certain interest groups. School history, therefore, first and foremost should teach students how to approach and use historical information critically from multiple perspectives. It should increase students' capacity to view the past from different angles rather than impose a certain perspective on students. History teaching should change students' conceptions of history by encouraging them to identify and act upon the most important historical questions about the past. In other words, history instruction should not treat historical knowledge as an end in itself but as a means to increase students' ability to understand complex human experiences across time and space. The ultimate goal of teaching history should be to help students enlarge their understanding of the increasingly interdependent social world and their place in it.

History should not be used as a means to socialize students of different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds into the mainstream or the dominant group's world view and culture by transmitting that privileged group's cultural norms and values to students (i.e., history as a tool for cultural transmission). Rather, history should be used to help students not only recognize their own cultural roots, identity, and heritage, but also gain insight into other people's cultures and world views. School history should instill in students a recognition of cultural pluralism and tolerant attitudes toward different ethnic groups. Likewise, it should help students sharpen their awareness of the Eurocentric or ethnocentric views of the past (For instance, the statement that America was discovered in the 15th century presents a good example of the Eurocentric view of history. Even though this proposition may be a fact for European Americans, it is not as such for American-Indians. Looking at this event from American-Indians' life experiences and viewpoints make it clear that Europeans' exploration or arrival to the new world is not a discovery for Native-Americans. Even though it is commonly taught as a fact, it actually reflects a particular view of the past or an interpretation of a wellknown historical event from the perspective of certain cultural or ethnicity groups, European-Americans).

Curriculum, instruction, and the teacher

What history should be taught? Which content knowledge should be emphasized in history curriculum? How should history curricula be developed? What is the role of teachers in curriculum development and implementation? How should history teachers go about designing, implementing, and assessing curricular and instructional activities? What methods are more appropriate and useful to accomplish the goals of teaching history? These and similar kinds of open-ended, controversial, and value-laden questions about history curriculum and instruction deserve adequate care and attention and are central to the effective history teaching and learning. I will draw on constructivist pedagogy, disciplinary approach to history teaching, and Danielson's (2007) framework for effective teaching to provide answers for these interrelated questions about the history curricula, instruction and the teacher.

Because history is composed of a vast amount of information and it is neither possible nor sensible to teach students everything about the past, the need for making a selection from among enormous historical knowledge is inevitable. The process involved in the selection of historical topics or the development of history curriculum should be made not only accessible and visible to the public scrutiny but also open to public debate and revision if needed. The assumptions and criteria used to select topics to be included in history curricula need to be overtly stated. The significance of the topics selected should be demonstrated especially in terms of their potential to promote students' critical historical thinking skills and to increase their understanding of the social world and their roles in it. National history curricula should be tailored to local needs and circumstances in order for students to find the curriculum relevant to their lives. In addition to being culturally inclusive and sensitive to diversity, the content of history curricula should have connection with real life outside the school.

History teachers' voices, perspectives and experiences need to be incorporated into the effort to design history curricula. As previous studies (McNeil, 1988; Thornton, 1991) have indicated, one of the reasons why school reform movements have consistently failed has to do with the fact that teachers' views and teaching experiences were neither valued nor incorporated into the curriculum reform efforts, as a result of which most teachers became resentful and remained suspicious of what was imposed upon them. To avoid repeating the same mistake, history teachers should not be seen as mere practitioners of curriculum. Rather, when building history curricula, the pedagogical expertise and first-hand experiences of history teachers in teaching history should be recognized and valued by giving them voice at the very beginning of history curriculum development at both the national and local levels.

What is expected of teachers In implementing history curricula? What qualifications and characteristics should history teachers possess to effectively practice their profession? First of all, teachers need to have a strong understanding of the conceptual foundations of history as a discipline. An understanding of the nature of history as a domain of knowledge or a discipline is necessary if history teachers are to help students enjoy exploring different aspects of the subject, coming to grips with complex human experiences in the past. Thus, teachers should have a satisfactory knowledge of and skills in the substantive and syntactic dimensions of history; i.e., knowing the structure of the discipline, its different modes of historical explanations, and the historical procedures and skills needed to construct explanations about the past. Without substantial knowledge and understanding of the concepts, procedures, and skills in history, teachers may fall short of realizing the goal of helping students develop "history's habits of mind" such as the acquisition and practice of historical insights, perspectives, understanding, and thoughtful judgment beyond more generic skills of critical thinking (NCHE, 2002).

It is, therefore, essential to bring the disciplinary approach to bear on history education in schools. As Gardner and Mansilla (1994) stressed, if students are to experience quality education, they need to explore the disciplinary tools in their engagement with the subject matter. Refuting the arguments of the critics whose critiques lead some educators to see the disciplines a significant part of the problem in schools today, these authors argued:

   We maintain that the scholarly disciplines
   represent the formidable achievements of
   talented human beings, toiling over the
   centuries, to approach and explain issues
   of enduring importance. Shorn of disciplinary
   knowledge, human beings are quickly
   reduced to the level of ignorant children ... (p.199)

Furthermore, teaching for understanding rather than memorization requires, Mansilla and Gardner (1997) argued, an "understanding of the disciplinary modes of thinking embodied in the methods by which knowledge is constructed, the forms in which knowledge is made public, and the purposes that drive inquiry in the domain" (p.382). Other scholars also emphasized the importance of the disciplinary approach to teaching. Wineburg, who was awarded for his scholarly contribution to the teaching and learning of history, and Wilson (1991) made an argument similar to that of Gardner and Mansilla. They stressed that if the goals for teaching history are to be realized, it is indispensable for teachers of history to understand the context and the nature of the discipline. Similarly, Seixas (2001) argued, unless models in the discipline of history are identified and used in history teaching and learning, any framework for exploring students' thoughts about history is destined to remain murky (p. 546). Alternative forms of history need not be viewed as burdensome or overwhelming for students to cope with, as Pomson and Hoz (1998) stated, but be considered as "cognitive agents fielding the rival attentions of different views of the past." Drawing on the insights that historical frameworks provide is crucial not only to arrive at a rational way of teaching history but also to adequately address the fundamental issues in history education (Lee, 1983). History curriculum and instruction, therefore, should incorporate recent changes in the discipline of history, i.e., different theoretical flame-works for studying history such as the postmodern approach to the study of the past and the linguistic turn in history.

In short, history teachers should understand the substantive and syntactic dimensions of history as a discipline. They need to know both the historical knowledge, the structure of the discipline, and the inquiry methods used by historians, i.e., constructing historical explanations by processing historical information via historical research. An understanding of what it means to know and to do history is essential for history teachers to see which knowledge, concepts, skills, and values are of foremost importance to students in their learning.

Having a command of the substantive and syntactic components of history is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for effective history instruction. The fact that a teacher is well-trained in the discipline of history does not mean or guarantee that he or she can effectively engage students in the subject. There is another type of knowledge that history teachers should have if their instruction is to successfully realize the goals of schooling in general and the goals of history teaching in particular. It is generic and subject-specific pedagogical knowledge that helps the teacher transform the subject matter knowledge into effective learning experiences for students. Instruction can be seen like a scissor. Content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) are the two blades of the instructional scissor. In order to function effectively, these two blades should work together simultaneously

PCK is defined as "the blending of content and pedagogy into an understanding of how particular topics, problems, or issues are organized, represented and adapted to the diverse interests and abilities of learners, and presented for instruction" (Shulman, 1987, p. 8). It is the kind of knowledge that helps the teacher to formulate the most useful forms of representation of the subject matter through such means as "analogies, illustrations, examples, explanations, and demonstrations" (Shulman, 1986, p. 9). PCK is composed of such theoretical and empirical knowledge as how learning occurs, how students develop cognitively, socially and emotionally, how students approach learning, and how to employ different types of teaching strategies. History teachers need to have a satisfactory knowledge of how students learn in history or construct understanding and meaning out of curricular activities to be able to teach the subject effectively and to help students develop historical understanding and consciousness, in addition, history teachers should recognize and address students' misconceptions about the subject, the shortcomings in their understanding of the past, and the concepts that students find difficult to learn in history. They should also know which concepts or skills should be introduced first before students can cope with other more complex concepts. That is, history teachers need to know the relationship among historical concepts and teach them accordingly in order to avoid incomplete student understanding of the subject and to help students develop increasingly more sophisticated understanding of the past and the present. The more knowledgeable a history teacher is about pedagogical content knowledge, the more likely it is that he or she is going to adjust curriculum and instruction to students' abilities, learning styles, pedagogical preferences, needs, interests, and cultural backgrounds.

History teachers should be familiar with the recent shift in the perspective on what learning is and how it occurs and then design their instruction accordingly. From the constructivist perspective, learning is an active process of constructing understanding and meaning by linking new information about a topic with what is already known, previously acquired knowledge and experiences. This view of learning requires that instruction be designed from the perspective of the learner rather than the perspective of the teacher. Because it is cognitive and constructivist learning theories that emphasize the learner and the construction of knowledge, history teachers are expected to draw on these learning theories, rather than the old-fashioned behaviorist approach, to develop their repertoire of instructional practices. Teaching models based on the concept of learner-centeredness which grows out of constructivist learning theories, therefore, should characterize history instruction.

A caveat about learner-centered instruction or active learning needs to be reminded. When employing instructional methods involving active student learning, the teacher should first consider not whether the task at hand demands active student engagement but whether it is intellectually challenging or academically rigorous. Whatever instructional activities the teacher develops should first and foremost promote a sophisticated understanding of the past on the part of students rather than just capture the attention of students who might find the task enjoyable. Another important point to note is that the teacher should determine how to engage students with active learning by making connections between theory and practice on the basis of his or her experiences. There are different theories and approaches about how to practice learner-centered instruction. They do not necessarily work for every teacher, every learner, and every class in schools. Therefore, rather than insist on practicing a given learning theory or teaching method, the history teacher should test it against his own and students' abilities, styles, and experiences and then decide whether that method works with him and his students in practice.

In addition to the knowledge of how children learn, the history teacher should know about the differences in learner characteristics at different ages and grades. History teachers' knowledge of their students should include their students' mental, social, and emotional characteristics in each stage of development in order to make subject matters relevant, interesting, and meaningful to students. Students differ from each other in terms of their talents, interests, preferred approaches to learning, socioeconomic status, cultural backgrounds etc. These differences among students should be recognized in order to enable each individual student to enjoy meaningful and rewarding learning experiences. There are also some students with special needs in almost every classroom. Instructional planning and evaluation should take these factors into account in order to accommodate each unique learner.

Knowledge of students' out of school experiences is also essential to make connection between the classroom and the real life. If history teachers are conversant with the knowledge of everyday events, activities, interests etc. that students bring to the school with them, they can not only make history instruction relevant to students' lives, but also increase students' interest in and motivation to learn the subject. As documented by the previous research on social studies education, students have a very negative attitude toward history and find history instruction boring, dull, useless, and meaningless. This poses a great problem for history educators to cope with. Without positive attitudes and perceptions, students are unlikely to take responsibility for their own learning and have little chance of learning history. Pointing out the importance of affective factors in learning, Marzano (1992) states:

   Psychologists have begun to view classroom
   climate more as a function of attitudes
   and perceptions of the learner than
   elements external to the learner. If students
   have certain attitudes and perceptions,
   they have a mental climate conducive
   to learning. If those attitudes and
   perceptions are not in place, learners have
   a mental climate not conducive to learning

One of the most important reasons why students dislike history has to do with the fact that they cannot see the connection between the remote past and their immediate experiences in the present (Yilmaz, 2008b). To overcome students' negative views of the subject and to increase their interest in it, history teachers should have students see the relevance of the past to the present in pedagogically meaningful ways by employing such strategies as historical empathy, historical inquiry, oral history, and family history. Making comparisons between the past and the present is central to the efforts to make history relevant and interesting to students. Technology tools, especially the Internet or the World Wide Web, can help facilitate that process by providing the teacher and students alike with an opportunity to have easy access to both contemporary sources such as news on current events and primary historical documents such as diaries, letters, pictures, movie clips etc.

History teachers should also be concerned with improving their instructional practices by means of reflection. Reflection is one of the most effective ways for improving practices on the basis of experiences. The ability and willingness to reflect on teaching is the key to teacher growth and professional development. Therefore, from time to time, history teachers should take time to reflect on the ways they plan, implement, and assess their lessons in order to get an accurate impression of the lesson's effectiveness and of the extent to which instructional goals were met. They need to figure out what worked well and what didn't work by evaluating the effectiveness of their lessons after instruction. Teachers' reflection should focus especially on understanding the consequences of their practices and gaining insight into the level of students' engagement with instructional activities and responses to the learning context. On the basis of thoughtful reflections, they should try to develop new ideas and ways about how to teach the same subject more effectively next time.

Lastly, since knowledge keeps growing rapidly in this information age, history teachers need to be devoted to improving their knowledge of content and pedagogy to keep abreast of the new developments in educational theory and research. As opposed to being stagnant and stable, content and pedagogy are in a state of rapid change and growth. Keeping in touch with professional organizations, reading educational journals, and participating in regional conferences and professional workshops are necessary for history teachers to stay on their cutting edge.

Conclusion and Recommendations

This article offered a vision of effective and pedagogically meaningful history education by drawing on the philosophy of history, a constructivist view of curriculum, instruction and learning, and the theoretical and empirical works on the teaching and learning of history in school settings. The epistemological underpinnings of the discipline of history are presented on the basis of the two sharply contrasting views on the nature of historical knowledge, history as an art vs. history as a science. It is argued that history is much closer to the art end of the art-science continuum in terms of the ways historical knowledge is produced.

In contrast to natural events, historical events and processes can be neither observed nor repeated since the past has gone. Hence, it takes imaginative thinking to establish the relationship between a virtually limitless number of disconnected historical facts and to connect historical events to their context. That is why the historian tries to understand the past events within their contexts by means of historical empathy, the ability to see and judge the past in its own terms by attempting to discern the thoughts, motivations, values, and beliefs behind the historical agents' actions. This subjective view, along with the changes in theoretical, philosophical, ideological, political, and moral viewpoints in turn, lead to the reinterpretation of the past, keeping historical knowledge dynamic, tentative and subject to change. Conventions of language, rhetorical strategies, genre, and mode of emplotment also affect the construction of historical knowledge. For these reasons, history is basically an interpretive endeavor. Every historical event is open to multiple interpretations and every historical account reflects a particular point of view, comment and judgment.

The nature of history needs to be taken into account in the teaching and learning of school history. History instruction should help students see the tentative and tangential nature of history by exposing them to the different interpretations of the same historical events through primary and secondary documents. Introducing students to the historical methodology, it should promote students' willingness to critically evaluate historical information, argument and a thesis from multiple perspectives. Rather than treat historical knowledge as an end in itself, it should use it as a means to increase students' ability to understand complex human experiences across time and space. The ultimate goal of history education should be to develop students' higher-order thinking, complex reasoning and decision making skills needed in life outside the school and to enlarge their understanding of the increasingly interdependent social world and their place in it.

Accomplishing these ends demands the kind of a history teacher who has not only a command of the substantive and syntactic dimensions of history as a discipline but also a strong understanding of the subject-specific pedagogical knowledge. The history teacher is expected to make the subject matters relevant, interesting, and meaningful to students by making connections between history content and students' out of school experiences. He or she also needs to employ such instructional strategies as historical empathy, historical inquiry, oral history, and family history in order to help students see the relevance of the past to the present and to their lives.

Helping realize the vision of history education offered in this article necessitates a change in the training of history teachers. Currently, history as a school subject is taught by social studies teachers, many of whom lack sufficient training in the discipline of history. According to research findings, school history "suffers a higher rate of out-of-field teaching than either mathematics or science" because a majority of social studies teachers do not have either a major or minor in history (Ravitch, 2000, p. 143). What exaggerates the problem about history education is the fact that, not disciplinary scholarship, but professional practice characterizes teaching methods courses in preservice programs (McDiarmid & Vinten-Johansen, 2000, p.157). "Few teacher educators are engaged in scholarly research in any discipline and may have little understanding of what historians and social scientists do as scholars" (p.157).

Given that many social studies educators are not trained in the discipline of history, it is recommended that social studies educators cooperate and collaborate with historians in order to help prepare history teachers who can blend history content with pedagogy in their effort to design pedagogically effective history curriculum and instruction. Having social studies teachers take a course on historiography can greatly facilitate this process in that historiography helps illuminate different movements in history or schools of historical thought and their philosophical, theoretical, ideological, and methodological underpinnings. It 'promotes disciplinary reflexivity and methodological and theoretical awareness through discussions of the history of the discipline, epistemological problems and the theoretical influences of other disciplines' (Hitchcock, Shoemaker & Tosh, 2000, p. 49). While the importance of historiography in history teaching and learning has long been appreciated in the UK and Europe, that is not the case in the US (Ahonen, 2001; Hitchcock et al., 2000). Therefore, social studies education departments need to incorporate a course on historiography to provide pre-service social studies teachers with an opportunity to read, discuss, reflect on, modify, and change their understandings of history on the basis of various approaches to the past.


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Kaya YILMAZ, Ph.D.

Marmara University

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