Should progression in history be modelled hierarchically?

Clio et cetera

I argued in my previous post that existing models of ‘getting better’ at history have tended (a) to look for generic features of historical practice and (b) to break these generic features down into hierarchical stages which describe ‘more sophisticated’ or ‘less sophisticated’ thinking within particular second-order conceptual domains (e.g. ‘evidence’ or ‘change’). In this post I want to tackle this problem head-on and suggest that our models of progression need to work on an accumulative rather than a hierarchical model.

The following table shows an attempt made in 1991 to break the idea of ‘causation’ down into ten stages by which to measure the progress of pupils between the ages of 5 and 16. This kind of approach has existed for many years in the UK with different iterations of the National Curriculum relying on the same approach to outline ‘levels’ of progression. Although these were finally scrapped in…

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