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ERIC Number: EJ893813
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Feb
Pages: 18
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Learning to Read the Signs
Osborne, John M.; Bombaro, Christine
History Teacher, v43 n2 p205-222 Feb 2010
The "fingerpost" is that ubiquitous hand with one extended finger long seen in public places, accompanied by directions such as "to the ladies' toilets" or "exit this way." More recently, that same finger has been widely adopted in electronic media, for the purpose of leading people simply and intuitively to a particular destination that the pointer wishes them to reach. Not all information is so willingly or simply provided, however, and neither is all communication so explicit. In many cases, the signs that can point in the "right" direction take other more subtle forms, are not designed to be as helpful, or are buried in an avalanche of other indicators. Teaching the skills of reading such communication, examining all evidence in detail, and making an analysis and final decision of direction or fact, therefore, are the vital common goals of many history courses. Likewise, as part of the first-year seminar program at Dickinson College, the course "Tell Me Why: The Role of Information in Society" had the overarching goal to study the history of communication, from the oral tradition to the internet, and further sought to provide new college students with a fresh opportunity to be trained to search for the pointing finger. Through the use of a mock trial based on their structured reading of Iain Pears' 1998 bestselling period mystery entitled "An Instance of the Fingerpost," supplemented with historical background, participants were set to the task of solving a case of murder. In this article, the authors describe the module they designed which is valuable, instructive, assessable, and compatible with the constraints of time and design of the seminar. (Contains 14 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: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania