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ERIC Number: EJ780271
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Dec
Pages: 21
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0030-9230
Methodological Considerations: Using Student Essays as Historical Sources. The Example of Postwar Germany
Blessing, Benita
Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, v43 n6 p757-777 Dec 2007
Pupils' essays represent an overlooked resource for historical inquiry. Historians have often ignored young people's work as 'unauthentic', falsely believing it to be merely the mimicking of teachers' and parents' beliefs. But young people are not merely mouthpieces for adults, as research on teacher-student interactions has demonstrated. By adding pedagogical theories of the classroom to social historical research methodology, it is possible to read pupils' writings as the result of their own critical thinking and observations, thus providing much-needed insight into the daily lives of young people. Using the example of Soviet-occupied postwar Germany, the author presents approximately a dozen representative pupils' essays of the 1400 she examined in order to illustrate how young people's voices help complete our picture of typical schooldays in historical contexts. The inclusion of these essays in the historical research on the postwar years in eastern Germany shows that the reinstatement of school after the war was an important event for young people, and that they cared very much about their learning. It also points to the many obstacles that young people faced in order to receive an education, including classrooms that were freezing and filled with rubble from the wartime bombings. Equally important is that these pupils' assignments underline the importance of including young people's voices in any historical investigation of schools. (Contains 71 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Germany