A Model of Historical Thinking

‘Historical thinking’ has a central role in the theory and practice of history education. At a minimum, history educators must work with a model of historical thinking if they are to formulate potential progression in students’ advance through a school history curriculum, test that progression empirically, and shape instructional experiences in order to maximize that progression. Where do they look, and where should they look, in order to construct such models? Over the past several decades, three major strands have developed, one based in the empirically minded and instruction-oriented British Schools Council History Project, a second through the more philosophically oriented German field of history didactics and historical consciousness, and a third in the US. All three had roots in the historiography and philosophy of their own national traditions. Canadian history educators have been working with a pragmatic hybrid defined around six ‘historical thinking concepts.’ While this model has both been highly influential in the reform of Canadian history curricula and prompted adaptations elsewhere, there has been only minimal theoretical discussion exploring the relationship of these concepts to each other or to the three traditions which helped to shape them. This article is a contribution towards filling that gap.