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Open Access Guiding students in Singapore to investigate historical controversy using a disciplinary approach

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This title is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY Version 4.0 license
In this article, we make the case for teaching historical controversy on disciplinary and educational grounds. We outline an approach for teaching controversial history topics that engages students with authentic historical problems, such as historical controversies or actual debates taken up by historians, and allows students to participate in history as an interpretative enterprise. The disciplinary approach we suggest can also help teachers practically manage the challenges of teaching contentious topics by drawing on the disciplinary methods and standards used in history. Teaching controversial topics is challenging in many contexts, and in this article we highlight some of the challenges teachers in Singapore face when teaching controversial topics in history classrooms. We also draw on research that examines the conceptions Singaporean students hold about history and the nature of accounts in history. We argue that teaching historical controversy can help students develop their conceptual understanding of historical accounts, understand the nature of history as a discipline, and build their historical knowledge. We conclude by arguing that in a time of widespread access to multiple and often competing accounts about past and present in social media, a discipline-based history education is more important than ever.
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Keywords: ACCOUNTS; CONCEPTUAL UNDERSTANDING; DISCIPLINARY PRACTICE; HISTORICAL CONTROVERSY; HISTORICAL REASONING; NATIONAL IDENTITY; SINGAPORE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 26 October 2018

More about this publication?
  • The History Education Research Journal (HERJ) is an international, open-access, peer-reviewed journal that focuses on the global significance and impact of history education. It covers all aspects of history education theory, scholarship, and pure and applied research. Articles illuminate contemporary issues, concerns, policies and practice, drawing upon the eclectic research methodologies of history education. The journal is published in partnership with the Historical Association.

    HERJ is a relaunch of the International Journal of Historical Learning Teaching and Research. All past issues up to and including vol. 15, no. 1 were published under this title. HERJ vol. 15, no. 2 is the first to be published by UCL IOE Press.
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