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, archaeological artifacts, oral traditions, and primary source) with respect to content, authorship, purpose, format, 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 judgments 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, were settlement house workers during the progressive era judgemental and condescending or generous and helpful? This question allows students to grapple with historical interpretation. They can view different primary and secondary sources to build a reasonable case. Studying the past in this manner can lead to constructive conversations regarding content and, more importantly, increase student skills in evidence-based, historical argumentation. This is just one example of social studies concepts being used to increase students' skills in conjunction with building their knowledge base.
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!