Teaching critical thinking in History class

BooksNext year a new matric History syllabus will be taught in South African schools. For the first time ever, Grade 12 learners will learn about apartheid.

But what is equally significant is the departure in teaching approach from rote learning of historical facts to discussion and open debate.

According to a Sunday Times article, the revised content aims “to make history more inclusive, representing different points of view” and that it encourages learners “to make up their own minds about the past.” In the article, historian Professor Nigel Worden from UCT says: “I’m a huge fan of this curriculum. It’s not just the new content but also the way it encourages skills of inquiry.”

This is very encouraging! By asking questions and holding the facts up to group discussion, learners develop analytical skills such as inquiry and critical thinking. And presenting their arguments for or against, whether in written or oral form, develops communication skills.

Image by Georg via Flickr (CC)

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