Back when my youngest was in fourth grade, I asked her to preview the very cool You Are the Historian website. It’s an interactive tool that asks elementary kids to use historical thinking skills while addressing the site’s guiding question: What really happened at the first Thanksgiving?
The site led her through primary sources, to video clips of colonial historians, and to the exploration of different artifacts. After she was finished, I asked her what she learned by “playing” the game:
The past is what really happened. History is what we say happened.
I couldn’t have been prouder. That’s exactly what I hoped to hear. (And good job, BTW, You Are the Historian creators.)
History is our interpretation of evidence.
We have a problem. We look at evidence. And we figure it out. But I’m not always sure that we’re teaching our kids how to do that very well. Part of the problem is bias. We don’t always make it clear enough that everything we have our kids use to solve the problems we give them is biased.
And just as there is no such thing as unbiased primary evidence, there is no such thing as unbiased secondary evidence. All news, photos, media sites, books – it’s all biased.
Need a few examples? Read more