Teaching History Through Inquiry

If you’ve ever worked with students, you know that lectures and PointPoint presentations are a sure way to kill any interest in history or historic places. In Teaching History Through Inquiry, Stephen Lazar, a social studies teacher at the Academy for Young Writers in Brooklyn, lists six ways he engages high school students to provide cultural literacy and help them develop as critical thinkers:

  1. Carefully craft your questions.
  2. Engage students in examining evidence.
  3. Move on to more nuanced questions.
  4. Navigate myths with the inquiry approach.
  5. Identify helpful resources.
  6. Prepare critical thinkers.

You can find details of each of these points at TeacherMagazine.org, which is making this premium article available for free.  But let me add another point:

7.  Engage with the real thing:  use original documents, visit historic sites, look at objects, and examine historical photographs and maps.  Those experiences bring mind and eye (and perhaps heart) together in a way that’s not possible in textbooks and classrooms.