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ERIC Number: EJ868372
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Nov
Pages: 20
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
The Challenges of Primary Sources, Collaboration, and the K-16 Elizabeth Murray Project
Cleary, Patricia; Neumann, David
History Teacher, v43 n1 p67-86 Nov 2009
In recent years, the use of primary sources in the history and social studies classroom has been increasingly promoted as a necessary and welcome practice, one designed to improve the quality of history education and to encourage student interest and engagement. Although some K-12 educators have been wary of adopting the use of primary sources, many others have enthusiastically responded to the call, incorporating a wealth of such sources in their lesson plans. In the process of exposing students to the raw material of history, teachers have invited and encouraged students to "do" history as they read, evaluate, and interpret such materials. The emphasis on primary sources, however, has not been matched by a corresponding stress on the tools and context needed to utilize them successfully. In short, teaching with primary sources raises pedagogical problems that few proponents of their use acknowledge: the inappropriate, superficial, or decontextualized reading of documents. This article offers one response to this challenge: the creation of frameworks for understanding primary sources that enable educators and students to interpret them in a sophisticated manner. The authors argue that such an effort works best when K-16 educators collaborate to incorporate historians' specialized knowledge with K-12 teachers' pedagogical expertise. Further, the authors believe that the endeavor can prove particularly useful when it pursues a biographical approach to studying the past and takes as its focus the life of a single, non-elite individual. And finally, the authors think the most effective means of making available such materials--particularly atypical primary sources--is online. (Contains 1 figure and 34 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A