(Published on 6 September 2012)

Historical Thinking featured in CBC radio story

CBC radio ran a back-to-school story on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 on the fundamental changes that are sweeping history education across the country.

This story features Professor Ruth Sandwell, of the University of Toronto, and her program Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History, as well as Jill Colyer, national coordinator of The Historical Thinking Project, and the work the HT Project is doing in Canadian classrooms across the country.

Sandwell notes that the current changes in history education are similar to those that occurred in science education a generation ago: “Teachers realized that if you are going to teach science it is not really enough to memorize plant names or processes of the digestive system. There is actually something called a scientific method . . . so in a way what is happening to history education is an equivalent kind of revolution.”

Colyer adds that this shift in history education is crucial as educators try to prepare students for the 21st century, particularly because students are drowning in information accessible online. “It is difficult to make sense of that information unless you have a conceptual framework that allows you to ask particular questions, think hard about sourcing and accuracy and quality of evidence.”

Listen to the complete story.

What is a Benchmark?

<p>John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising &amp; Marketing History,<br />Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections</p>

A surveyor cut a "benchmark" into a stone or a wall when measuring the altitude and/or level of a tract of land. A bracket called a "bench" was secured in the cut to mount the surveying equipment, and all subsequent measurements were made in reference to the position and height of that mark.

The term "benchmark" was first used around 1842 to refer to a standard of quality by which achievement may be measured.

The foundation documents available through the Benchmarks site attempt to help teachers establish standards for assessing student learning of the modes of thought that constitute historical thinking.

John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History,
Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections