Understanding agency and developing historical thinking through labour history in elementary school: A local history learning experience

Local history has been much neglected in many social studies curricula, in spite of its potential for providing students with authentic and proximal objects of study for the development of historical thinking and understanding of historical agency. This paper presents the results of a collaborative research endeavor, conducted with two teachers and their fifth grade students, and centered around a local history learning unit. The unit included a field enquiry and role-play based on the use of primary source evidence. The unit proved favorable for the development of some structural concepts of historical thinking (Seixas, 1996) and helped students see themselves as historical agents.