James A. Duthie. A Handbook for History Teachers

By Yaremko, Jason M. | Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

James A. Duthie. A Handbook for History Teachers


Yaremko, Jason M., Teaching History: A Journal of Methods


James A. Duthie. A Handbook for History Teachers. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2012. Pp. 312. Paper $36.99; ISBN 978-0-7618-5990-1.

James Duthie, an historian and recently retired teacher, has done great service to working and aspiring history teachers through this important handbook. If not exhaustive, it is most certainly comprehensive in its treatment of various essential areas of "doing" and teaching history, from philosophy to practice. Seventeen chapters in length, the first four chapters address the rationale, nature, and logic of history, while the bulk of the book examines the theory and practice of teaching and learning history as a discipline. Virtually no stone has been left unturned by the author: data processing and acquisition, reading (including images and artifacts), research and writing, evaluation, testing, and even classroom management are covered in a very thoughtful and eminently readable and accessible form.

Importantly, Duthie is clear at the outset about a couple of things: one, about the crucial distinction between teaching and learning history as a subject versus teaching it as a discipline, the latter of which he correctly views as essential and imperative; secondly, that his methodological emphasis is based on his own experiences as a teacher. As any historian should know, infinitely more than a mere subject or a body of immutable facts, history is a living process, an ongoing dialogue with the past, rife with revision and competing interpretations, some more accurate and more valid than others. As Duthie points out, therefore, the objective of history education should be to prepare students to evaluate these competing interpretations in order to determine which have merit and which come the closest to that ever elusive objectivity; in other words, to teach critical thinking. …

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