Rethinking the Approach to Teaching Causation In the History Classroom, pp. 3 of 10

Table 1: Extract of Eassy Written by Student B

Question: ‘The Treaty of Versailles was a fair treaty’. How far do you agree with this statement? Explain your answer.

However, the Treaty is also somewhat fair in view of the Allies. Northern French soil was almost completely destroyed after the war ended as the war was mainly fought on French soil. This made the French angry and bore hatred towards the Germans. The other Allies also suffered great losses and since the Germans in their eyes, had started the war, it was only right to impose harsh consequences on the Germans and make them pay for the Allies’ losses. Thus, the treaty was also a fair one on the side of the Allies.

Conceptualizing interventions that support the teaching of causal reasoning skills

What, then, would the implications for the teaching of effective causal reasoning skills mean in the classroom? For one, teachers may need to be precise in what they would like students to understand about historical causation. In that regard, Chambers (2007)’s suggestions seemed invaluable. He proposed that teachers should:

  • identify the topics in the syllabus that can best serve the teaching of causation;
  • understand the possible learning objectives with regard to causation:
    • knowledge of the causes of the event
    • identifying causes embedded within the narrative
    • understanding the roles played by different causes
    • making linkages between the causes
    • organizing the causes into categories
    • distinguishing between the long-term (trends) and short-term (triggers) causes of events
    • coming up with a hierarchy of importance of causes
  • frame an appropriate inquiry question that will help students understand, think and develop causal reasoning;
  • be aware of the need to provide vocabulary, information and scaffolds to guide students to develop causal reasoning

(Chambers, 2007:50-58).

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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