Note-making, knowledge-building and critical thinking are the same thing


By Heidi Le Cocq, published 10th May 1999

Heidi Le Cocq sets out the classic problem of the history teacher: how does she cover the content and ensure that pupils reflect and analyse at the same time? She relates this to a another problem: how do you prepare pupils well for coursework (ensuring, for example, that they adopt a conceptual and critical focus) without actually doing the work for them? This detailed account and evaluation of the thinking that went into one lesson shows that the solutions to these two problems are connected. Moreover, Heidi Le Cocq argues that the assumed distinctions in these typical history teacher questions are the root of the problem. The only way in which pupils will really acquire a secure, working knowledge is by processing the information or thinking historically. If reading and note-taking are driven by a conceptual framework, then pupils must choose and use the information rather than merely copying it mindlessly. Such an approach will also prepare pupils for the  analytical requirements of the ensuing coursework, without pre-empting the outcome.

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