Are we training pupils to be historians?

Clio et cetera

archives This is a question that gets banded around in education quite a lot. It is quite common – and I have done it many times myself – to tell pupils that they are historians, or learning to be historians, but do we really mean that when we say it?

When we hear of pupils being historians, we usually think of the old Schools History Project, which placed the emphasis on pupils using sources to learn about the past. In a simple form, the idea is that historians learn about the past by studying sources and that, if we get pupils doing the same, then they too will gain the same knowledge about the past. In short, the epistemology of the discipline becomes the pedagogy of the school subject.

As most who read this blog will be aware, however, this approach to teaching subject disciplines is full of problems. In Willingham’s…

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