Illuminating the shadow: making progress happen in casual thinking through speaking and listening


By Vaughan Clark, published 1st December 2001

Here is another breath of fresh air from the Thomas Tallis history department. In TH 103, Head of Department Tony Hier showed how he developed a rigorous framework for implementing government initiatives and improving departmental professional discourse at the same time. This time, from history teacher Vaughan Clark, we get a detailed, practical account of how he develops pupils’ causal reasoning. Vaughan lights the way with distinctive personal vision and plenty of subject passion. He also drives a bus through simplistic polarities. On the one hand, one might say that he uses speaking and listening not as some counterweight to writing, but in direct and systematic support of it. Yet it would be equally true to say that whilst he draws upon the idea of causal explanation as expressed in its conventional written form - the written historical argument - he uses this for putting historical rigour into speaking and listening activities that have value in their own right; this certainly isn’t just preparation for writing. We also get a glimpse of just how much more powerful and effective history teaching can be when part of a planned programme for long-term progression: Vaughan attends to substantive knowledge and concepts as well as to second-order concepts like causation.

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