"It Wasn't a Good Part of History": National Identity and Ambiguity in Students' Explanations of Historical Significance
by Keith C. Barton & Linda S. Levstik - 1998
In this study, we investigated middle graders' understanding of significance in U.S. history through open-ended interviews with forty-eight students in grades five through eight. Students pointed to steadily expanding rights and opportunities as a central theme in U.S. history, but they also had difficulty incorporating some historical patterns and events into their image of progress. This study suggests that students need experience with the complexities of the past within a context that provides some framework for making critical sense out of both legitimating stories and alternative, vernacular histories.
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