Historical Empathy and Perspective Taking in the Social Studies

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Making the historical past come alive for students is a goal of most social studies teachers. Many youth find the people and events and movements portrayed in their textbooks to be wooden, remote, and empty. For history to become alive to them, students seek personal meanings as they use knowledge of context and ponder details. Currently most school history programs emphasize knowledge acquisition at the expense of these personal constructions of meaning. This new collection of essays provides practical assistance in the search for a more robust teaching of history and the social studies. Contributors to this volume offer insights from the discipline of history about the nature of empathy and the necessity of examining perspectives on the past. On the basis of recent classroom research, they suggest tested guides to more robust teaching. They also employ examples from classroom practice about how teachers can facilitate students' consideration of multiple and sometimes conflicting perspectives when seeking historical meanings. The contributors insist that with experienced history and social studies teachers, students can learn many historical details and, with the use of empathy, develop deepened and textured interpretations of the history that they study.

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Editorial Reviews

Nine essays discuss the deployment of empathy in history education, a shift from simply teaching history as "the facts." Focusing on elementary and secondary education, the contributors discuss what historical empathy is (a way to understand why people in the past acted as they did, not just how they acted) and is not (a process of identifying with people from the past). The work describes the theory behind historical empathy and also offers techniques that have been used in classrooms to encourage a deeper understanding of history. The contributors are academics based in the US and UK. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
This book collects enlightening work by leading researchers from the US and the UK. Recommended for graduate students, researchers, and professionals.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847698134
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/15/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

O. L. Davis, Jr. is Catherine Mae Parker Centennial Professor of Curriculum and Instruction. Elizabeth Anne Yeager is associate professor of social studies education at the University of Florida. Stuart J. Foster is associate professor of social science education at the University of Georgia.

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Table of Contents

1 In Pursuit of Historical Empathy 1
2 The Role of Empathy in the Development of Historical Understanding 13
3 Empathy, Perspective Taking, and Rational Understanding 21
4 From Empathic Regard to Self-Understanding: Im/Positionality, Empathy, and Historical Contextualization 51
5 Crossing the Empty Spaces: Perspective Taking in New Zealand Adolescents' Understanding of National History 69
6 Teaching and Learning Multiple Perspectives on the Use of the Atomic Bomb: Historical Empathy in the Secondary Classroom 97
7 Perspectives and Elementary Social Studies: Practice and Promise 115
8 The Holocaust and Historical Empathy: The Politics of Understanding 139
9 Historical Empathy in Theory and Practice: Some Final Thoughts 167
Index 183
About the Contributors 191
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