Historical Concepts and National Examinations: Have O-Level Structured-Essay Questions Encouraged the Teaching of Historical Concepts?, pp. 3 of 10

  1. A strong grasp of the concept of evidence enables students to understand how sources are analysed, evaluated and used to answer historical questions.
  1. Accounts

    1. Accounts are essentially historians’ reconstructions of events that happened in the past.
    2. A strong grasp of the concept of accounts enables students to understand that different accounts of the same historical event naturally exist because different accounts address different questions about the past.
       
  2. Cause and Effect

    1. ‘Cause and effect’ or causation is basically an understanding of why events happened, and why they happened the way they did.
    2. A strong grasp of the concept of causation enables students to identify the factors/reasons that led to an event or action, and it also enables students to assess the relative importance of these factors/reasons in leading to that event or action.
       
  3. Change and Continuity

    1. Change and continuity refers to the description or evaluation of developments in human societies across historical periods.
    2. A strong grasp of the concept of change and continuity enables students to assess the things that change and the things that stay the same for human societies across time.
       
  4. Significance

    1. Historical significance refers to the assessment of why an event/person/idea/issue mattered in that it had major consequences throughout history.
    2. A strong grasp of the concept of significance enables students to understand that historical events themselves are not significant, but rather, significance is assigned based on criteria (usually related to the consequences of the event) chosen by different historians.
       
  5. Empathy

    1. Historical Empathy refers to the ability of students to take on the perspective of historical actors in order to understand the way these actors viewed their world at that point in time.
    2. A strong grasp of historical empathy allows students to understand why historical actors made the decisions they did.
       
  6. Diversity

    1. Among other things, diversity in history refers to the diverse interpretations of the past that exist because people’s experiences differed based on their individual or group circumstances.
    2. A strong grasp of diversity in history enables students to understand that many different perspectives, experiences, and interpretations exist – this is what makes the study of the past so complex.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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