Welcome to the Social Studies Department!
Historical thinking involves the ability to identify, describe, and evaluate evidence about the past from diverse sources (including written documents, works of art, archaelogical artifacts, oral traditions, and primary source) with respect to content, authorship, purpose, fomat, and audience. It involves the capacity to extract useful information, make supportable inferences, and draw appropriate conclusions from historical evidence while also understanding such evidence in its context, recognizing its limitations and assessing the points of view that it reflects.
In basic terms, we strive to teach students how to read documents critically and break them down into understandable parts. Using this information, students can make well informed judgements and interpretations about the past. It is more important that students sharpen their skills in drawing reasonable conclusions rather than memorizing specific dates or vocabulary. By looking at and reviewing events and the context in which they happened with a critical eye, students can improve their ability to reach a higher level of thinking. For example, would a war between the North and South have occurred if slavery were not an institution? The question may seem simple, but the tension between both groups includes complex economic, social, and political differences. Studying this complex system can lead to constructive conversations about not only the Civil War, but a discussion of causation rather than the event of the Civil War itself.
We hope that, at the end of each course, students will increase their mastery of the skills promoted by the National Council for History Education. To see the list of skills and examples of what students might be doing in class to meet these standards, please visit the following website: https://chnm.gmu.edu/fairfaxtah/documents/habitsofmind.doc
Feel free to visit our web pages using the links below and, again, thanks for visiting the Social Studies Department!