“Benchmarks of Historical Thinking”: Research and Knowledge Mobilization
Since early 2006, a partnership between the Centre for the Study of Historical Consciousness and a private, non-profit foundation has promoted the development of historical thinking as a foundational element of history curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Perhaps what is most unexpected is the apparently broad acceptance of the reform effort, in a jurisdictional arena where history—more than any other school subject—is jealously guarded by the provinces. The primary goal of the project is to mobilize the findings of twenty years of history education research in Great Britain, the United States, Australia and Canada (primarily), as a catalyst for improving the teaching of history in Canadian schools. Research associated with this project includes 1) the history of the project itself, focusing on explanations of its surprisingly widespread acceptance among education stakeholders; 2) tracking of its impact on textbooks and uptake in provincial history and social studies curricula; 3) analysis of teachers and students in history classrooms, specifically in relation to historical thinking (distinguished from rote memorization of historical facts and concepts as well as generic critical thinking and literacy skills); and 4) refinement, in a Canadian context, of our understanding of how students progress towards expertise in history.
Above: The Vancouver delegation attending the Benchmarks Project National Invitational Meeting in Feb 2010 in Toronto.