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ERIC Number: ED515570
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 309
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1096-5978-8
Inquiry and Ideology: Teaching Everyday Forms of Historical Thinking
Freedman, Eric B.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
In this design-based study, an eleven-week curricular module in recent American history was developed that departed from both the epistemology and ideology of traditional textbooks. The curriculum instantiated a constructivist epistemology by having students assess multiple historical narratives and sources of evidence. It instantiated a critical-multiculturalist ideology by probing into topics related to poverty, racial inequality, and the Vietnam War. The curriculum also emphasized everyday forms of historical thinking that citizens utilize in their daily lives over disciplinary forms utilized by professional historians. The aim was for the recent past to elucidate public issues of the present. The curriculum was taught to two ninth grade classes at a rural high school in the Midwest. Ninety-six percent of the students in the classes were white, but they were socio-economically, academically, and ideologically diverse. The researcher conducted daily observations, collected student assignments, audio-recorded discussions, and interviewed the teacher and a portion of the students. Four questions were asked of the data: Did the curriculum work as intended? What did students learn from it? How did the students and teacher respond to the pedagogy employed? And did the curriculum avoid indoctrination? At the curriculum's outset, students' ability to make sense of a current public issue was thwarted by gaps in their understanding of American history. The curriculum succeeded in teaching a set of intellectual tools designed to improve their understanding: judging among two competing interpretations of an event, assessing the credibility and significance of historical accounts, weaving multiple accounts into a coherent narrative, tracing an issue's development over a long span of time, and considering prior approaches to addressing a social problem. At the outset, students also endorsed the dominant American narrative of exceptionalism, progress, and opportunity. Units on the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement prompted reflection on those narratives and altered many students' beliefs about race and foreign policy. Students remained committed, however, to the notions of meritocracy and "white innocence." They appreciated hearing multiple perspectives on the issues addressed but often falsely assumed that the curriculum itself was politically neutral. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Grade 9; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A