“Who even knows if this really happened,” one of my students declared this year. “How do you think? How does one find out about anything?” I responded wanting to discuss how history is formed – the need to find artifacts from the past, find corroboration between various sources, hypothesize what happened and why things happened, publish the results, and have other historians look at the same event to build on or refute a claim. Sadly, the Friday afternoon bell rang and the conversation was not had.
Looking back at this brief exchange, I feel a bit uneasy, as perhaps I do not do a good enough job teaching how history is formed and that history is actually studying interpretations of the past* – a past that historians often view differently.
With this exchange in mind, I have decided to these beliefs during the first week of school. The first lesson, posted below, deals with how history is formed and the second, highlighted in Next Steps, will deal with how history is not static, but an argument built on evidence.
Student Life Events “Histories”
Students bring in three or more items related to a single event in their lives. The artifacts could be pictures, a Facebook post, a trophy, a ribbon, a newspaper clipping, etc…