Since the days of the Ancient Greeks, history has been perceived as the academic study of the past. Unfortunately, it has generally been taught as a litany of rigid, boring facts intended to be accepted rather than questioned. This has been reinforced for decades by weighty textbooks that overwhelm the reader with mind-numbing details presented in a chronological sequence. The end result is that students see little relevance of what they learn in history class to the real world, and many simply struggle to stay awake. Compared to other subjects taught at the secondary level, history is frequently judged to be the most boring. This is largely because it is viewed as an intellectually lifeless subject that presents few opportunities for active engagement.
Questioning History is a book built around 16 essential questions designed to challenge this common assumption. Each question is broad, open-ended and subject to vigorous debate. By examining the historical background behind each question and by analyzing the ways in which the question can be answered, the reader will come away with a deeper understanding of the past and a new appreciation for history as a cognitively dynamic subject. In addition, by using each chapter as a platform for engaging discussions and Socratic seminars, the reader will be able to refine the decision-making skills necessary for effective citizenship in a democratic society. Depending on the classroom or the setting in which it is being used, Questioning History can either take the place of the more traditional textbook or at least be used as a supplement to make it come more alive. The best way to learn and to appreciate a subject is through active engagement. Questioning History provides a shot of adrenalin to the study of history.
About the Author
Table of ContentsChapter 1 Introduction
What are history's essential questions?
Chapter 2 An existential seesaw
What is the ideal balance between faith and reason?
Chapter 3 Piety and the past
What has been the impact of religion on history?
Chapter 4 History's moral calculus
How should civilizations be morally evaluated?
Chapter 5 Stereotypes: The good, the bad and the ugly
Why do people ascribe defining characteristics to certain nationalities?
Chapter 6 The best way to slice the pie
What is the fairest way for a society to share its wealth?
Chapter 7 A balancing act
How much power should be given to the people?
Chapter 8 Sharing the sandbox
What is the best way for nations to carry on foreign policy?
Chapter 9 This land is mine
How should control of land best be determined?
Chapter 10 I pledge allegiance
How should nationalism be assessed in history?
Chapter 11 Let the ruling classes tremble
When, if ever, is a rebellion justified?
Chapter 12 War, what is it good for?
When, if ever, should a nation go to war?
Chapter 13 Taking off the gloves
What limits, if any, should be followed in times of war?
Chapter 14 The flow of humanity
What is the best way to control human migration?
Chapter 15 All men are created equal
What is the best way to achieve equality?
Chapter 16 In the eye of the beholder
What is the best way to evaluate artistic expression?
Chapter 17 The struggle for power
Why are there competitive factions in a democratic society?
Chapter 18 Epilogue
What is the best way to use essential questions?