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Teaching history for the common good / Keith C. Barton, Linda S. Levstik

Main Author Barton, Keith C. Coauthor Levstik, Linda S. Country Estados Unidos. Publication Mahwah : Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004 Description XI, 288 p. ; 23 cm ISBN 0-8058-3931-3 CDU 93:372.893 372.893:93
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Monografia Biblioteca Geral da Universidade do Minho
BGUM 93:372.893 - B Available 332310
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

In Teaching History for the Common Good, Barton and Levstik present a clear overview of competing ideas among educators, historians, politicians, and the public about the nature and purpose of teaching history, and they evaluate these debates in light of current research on students' historical thinking. In many cases, disagreements about what should be taught to the nation's children and how it should be presented reflect fundamental differences that will not easily be resolved. A central premise of this book, though, is that systematic theory and research can play an important role in such debates by providing evidence of how students think, how their ideas interact with the information they encounter both in school and out, and how these ideas differ across contexts. Such evidence is needed as an alternative to the untested assumptions that plague so many discussions of history education.

The authors review research on students' historical thinking and set it in the theoretical context of mediated action --an approach that calls attention to the concrete actions that people undertake, the human agents responsible for such actions, the cultural tools that aid and constrain them, their purposes, and their social contexts. They explain how this theory allows educators to address the breadth of practices, settings, purposes, and tools that influence students' developing understanding of the past, as well as how it provides an alternative to the academic discipline of history as a way of making decisions about teaching and learning the subject in schools.

Beyond simply describing the factors that influence students' thinking, Barton and Levstik evaluate their implications for historical understanding and civic engagement. They base these evaluations not on the disciplinary study of history, but on the purpose of social education--preparing students for participation in a pluralist democracy. Their ultimate concern is how history can help citizens engage in collaboration toward the common good.

In Teaching History for the Common Good, Barton and Levstik:
*discuss the contribution of theory and research, explain the theory of mediated action and how it guides their analysis, and describe research on children's (and adults') knowledge of and interest in history;
*lay out a vision of pluralist, participatory democracy and its relationship to the humanistic study of history as a basis for evaluating the perspectives on the past that influence students' learning;
*explore four principal "stances" toward history (identification, analysis, moral response, and exhibition), review research on the extent to which children and adolescents understand and accept each of these, and examine how the stances might contribute to--or detract from--participation in a pluralist democracy;
*address six of the principal "tools" of history (narrative structure, stories of individual achievement and motivation, national narratives, inquiry, empathy as perspective-taking, and empathy as caring); and
*review research and conventional wisdom on teachers' knowledge and practice, and argue that for teachers to embrace investigative, multi-perspectival approaches to history they need more than knowledge of content and pedagogy, they need a guiding purpose that can be fulfilled only by these approaches--and preparation for participatory democracy provides such purpose.

Teaching History for the Common Good is essential reading for history and social studies professionals, researchers, teacher educators, and students, as well as for policymakers, parents, and members of the general public who are interested in history education or in students' thinking and learning about the subject.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Preface (p. ix)
  • 1 A Sociocultural Perspective on History Education (p. 1)
  • Using Theory and Research to Make Sense of History Education (p. 3)
  • The Four Stances: Purpose and Practice in Learning History (p. 7)
  • Tools for Making Sense of the Past (p. 10)
  • Children and Adults as Active Agents of Historical Learning (p. 12)
  • Contexts of Historical Learning (p. 17)
  • Conclusions (p. 19)
  • 2 Participatory Democracy and Democratic Humanism (p. 25)
  • The Need for a Rationale for History Education (p. 26)
  • Public Education and Democratic Citizenship (p. 28)
  • Conclusions (p. 40)
  • Education for Democratic Participation (p. 35)
  • 3 The Identification Stance (p. 45)
  • Identification With Personal and Family History (p. 46)
  • National Identification (p. 48)
  • Identification of the Present With the National Past (p. 54)
  • Identification, Participation, and Pluralism (p. 57)
  • Conclusions (p. 64)
  • 4 The Analytic Stance (p. 69)
  • The History of the Present (p. 70)
  • Learning Lessons From the Past (p. 75)
  • Learning How Historical Accounts Are Created (p. 82)
  • Conclusions (p. 85)
  • 5 The Moral Response Stance (p. 91)
  • Remembrance and Forgetting (p. 92)
  • Fairness and Justice (p. 97)
  • Heroes and Heroism (p. 102)
  • Conclusions (p. 106)
  • 6 The Exhibition Stance (p. 110)
  • Exhibition as Personal Fulfillment (p. 111)
  • Exhibition as Accountability (p. 113)
  • Exhibition as Service to Others (p. 118)
  • Conclusions (p. 124)
  • 7 Narrative Structure and History Education (p. 129)
  • The Meaning of Narrative (p. 129)
  • Conclusions (p. 146)
  • Students and Historical Narratives (p. 132)
  • Affordances and Constraints of Narrative (p. 136)
  • Narrative Structure as a Cultural Tool (p. 139)
  • 8 Narratives of Individual Achievement and Motivation (p. 150)
  • The Role of Individual Narratives in History Education (p. 151)
  • The Appeal and Limitations of Individual Narratives (p. 154)
  • Individual Narratives as a Cultural Tool (p. 159)
  • Conclusions (p. 162)
  • 9 The Story of National Freedom and Progress (p. 166)
  • Appropriation of the U.S. National Narrative (p. 167)
  • Diversity in Use of the National Narrative (p. 171)
  • Affordances and Constraints of the Narrative of Freedom and Progress (p. 177)
  • Conclusions (p. 182)
  • 10 Inquiry (p. 185)
  • Inquiry as Reflective Thought (p. 186)
  • Affordances of Inquiry as a Tool (p. 188)
  • Students Engaging in Inquiry: Problems and Possibilities (p. 191)
  • The Tool of Inquiry and Its Component Parts (p. 197)
  • Conclusions (p. 201)
  • 11 Historical Empathy as Perspective Recognition (p. 206)
  • The Components of Historical Empathy (p. 208)
  • A Sense of "Otherness" (p. 210)
  • Shared Normalcy (p. 211)
  • Historical Contextualization (p. 213)
  • Multiplicity of Historical Perspectives (p. 215)
  • Caring About (p. 229)
  • Contextualization of the Present (p. 218)
  • The Constraint of Empathy as Perspective Recognition (p. 221)
  • Conclusions (p. 223)
  • 12 Empathy as Caring (p. 228)
  • Varieties of Care in History Education (p. 229)
  • Caring That (p. 232)
  • Caring For (p. 234)
  • Caring To (p. 237)
  • The Place of Care in the Tool Kit of History Education (p. 240)
  • Conclusions (p. 241)
  • 13 Teacher Education and the Purposes of History (p. 244)
  • Teacher Knowledge and Education Reform (p. 245)
  • The Pedagogical Content Knowledge of History Teachers (p. 246)
  • Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Classroom Practice (p. 248)
  • The Practice of History Teaching (p. 252)
  • The Role of Purpose in History Teaching (p. 254)
  • Changing the Practice of History Teaching (p. 258)
  • Author Index (p. 267)
  • Subject Index (p. 275)

Reviews provided by Syndetics


Barton and Levstik are the leading researchers on history education in North America. Here they provide a valuable overview of the field's response to the long-standing curriculum question, "What knowledge is of most worth?" Their basic premise is that systematic study of how students learn history can inform the often highly charged debates on the purposes of history education by challenging the often untested assumptions underlying various points of view. The authors review research on students' historical thinking and explain how the concept of "mediation action" can assist in understanding how contexts, teaching practices, and purposes influence learning. Barton and Levstik have likely overestimated the capacity of empirical research to affect normative debates on the history curriculum. Their overly optimistic view of policy discussions, however, does not dilute the importance of their evaluation of the debates themselves or the implications of the research. The overriding message is that history teaching and learning must prepare students for participation in a pluralist democracy. Thus, the authors have constructed a bridge that may connect two competing curricular camps: advocates of interdisciplinary social studies and history educators. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. E. W. Ross University of British Columbia

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