Whose History or whose histories ?

I devised this lesson for a DP1 group to be taught in the first term of a ToK Course. My students do not have the opportunity to study History in their DP, further they take MYP prior to DP (so they’re strong on source analysis, but have not studied a period of history in the way that IGCSE History would allow).

I experience a number of problematic understandings of AoK History when marking ToK Essays. I often find that students have an uncritical view of a unitary accepted Historical Truth. Such students portray history as being a set of events which could be uncovered and objectively report if we had the correct tools. They don’t bring the contrasting perspective that History is a process of knowledge construction, a narrative, and necessarily a process of interpretation. These learning activities are devised to develop that more constructionist view of History

Learning Task 1: Selecting history for analysis

Assignment for Students:
Identify a historical event, or period, that you will use for analysis in today’s lesson.

You should spend 30 minutes putting together some notes on
(i) the conventional understanding of this event
(ii) who the main historians studying this event are
(iii) what was their research methodology etc.

You need to become a ‘short term expert’ on your historical event. Format – electronic notes for personal use.

Lesson Tasks.
Student Presentation.

Students to present the three points above pertaining to their event.
The rest of the class should present any contrasting knowledge or views that they have for each of the presenters.
Each event/period can be rated in terms of typical likert scales, such as:
Knowable – Unknowable
Subjective – Objective
Able to identify causes – Unable to identify causes.

Teacher extrapolation.
Teacher can use this presentation to draw out the key points of the constructionist approach to AoK History.Students now apply the key ideas to their own Historical event / period in order to build a constructionist understanding of their event.

Possible: student outcome
(i) an essay on the reasons for differences in understanding of period X.
(ii) a presentation on the reasons for difficulty in researching period X.