Beyond bias: making source evaluation meaningful to year 7


By Heidi Le Cocq, published 11th February 2000

In this article, Heidi Le Cocq demonstrates how to introduce Year 7 pupils to sophisticated techniques for evaluating sources. Taking up Seán Lang's criticism of the inappropriate use of the term ‘bias', she shows how even very young pupils can be encouraged to move beyond this wearisome response to questions about a source's reliability. Firmly based on good classroom practice, her article indicates ways in which pupils can learn - can be taught - to broaden this method of enquiry and to extend it to questions of interpretation and utility. Heidi Le Cocq argues that the avoidance of trite and formulaic responses to questions about evidence is vital if pupils are to feel that the questions are meaningful. History, she suggests, is simply too exciting, and important, to be abandoned to the cynical manipulation of timeworn phrases.

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