Learning World History at Variable Scales in Middle and High Schools
World History Association 3
This panel will bring together educators who have all engaged, in both research and classroom experience, with the dynamics of “scale shifting” as an important issue in teaching and learning world history. The panelists will give attention to four questions, among others, that address the development of critical thinking skills related to variable scales: Why is it important for world history students to undertake evidence-based study of patterns of change at very large scales (transregional, global) as well as investigate histories of particular civilizations or nations, and how may this approach advance understanding of change at both global and regional levels? Why, as research has shown, do students commonly ascribe even major changes in human history to the intentions and desires of individual or group actors rather than take account of large-scale structural factors? How can the historical profession contribute to a greater and much needed understanding of how young people think and learn about the past, particularly how they conceive relationships among events occurring at different scales, how they compare events in different contexts of time and space, how they formulate questions to interrogate significance at different scales, and how they apply evidence to in addressing explanations of change on local, regional, and global scales? Finally, how might teacher education more effectively address such analytical issues as variable scales and thus transcend the study of the past as serial fact acquisition?
This panel addresses directly the "scale in history" theme of the conference. The panel expects to attract an audience of collegiate world history instructors and graduate students, middle and high school social studies teachers, and professionals interested in issues of historical pedagogy and cognition.