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How to Enhance Historical Thinking

Context

Activists claim that history is being distorted for political purposes.

Relevance:

GS Paper-1: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

Mains Question

Is it possible to recreate the past exactly? Analyze critically. (150 words)


Reforms needed in Text books

  • On November 30, 2021, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth, and Sports, chaired by Vinay P. Sahasrabuddhe, presented the ‘Reforms in Content and Design of School Textbooks’ to both Houses of Parliament.
  • The Committee’s circular stated three goals:
    • Removing from textbooks references to unhistorical facts and distortions about our national heroes.
    • Ensuring that references to all periods of Indian history are equal or proportionate.
    • Emphasizing the roles of great historical female heroes.
    • Following consultations, the Committee made 25 recommendations related to: o Improving children’s engagement in learning.
    • The textbook’s content.
    • Women’s representation in history during the Indian freedom struggle, as well as changing how women are traditionally represented in textbooks.
    • Using EdTech to deliver content, promote scientific temper, innovation, communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.
    • The report also emphasised the importance of textbooks in promoting national integration, unity, and constitutional values.

Criticism of the circular

  • On July 14, 2021, the Indian History Congress (IHC) issued a criticism of the circular, stating: o The criticism of the current textbooks implicit in the ‘Reforms’ under consideration does not come from any competent group of nationally and globally recognised historians. o It is from a political viewpoint supported by non-academic members of bias.
  • The IHC release disputed the circular’s three objectives by providing 11 pages of tabular data detailing the distribution of content in existing history textbooks.
  • According to the IHC, “school textbooks written for the NCERT by some of the country’s tallest scholars were actually removed, and books with a clear sectarian, majoritarian bias were introduced in 2002.”
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee was chastised for not having a single woman member.

What exactly are historical thinking abilities?

  • Historians, curators, researchers, archaeologists, and other professionals use historical thinking skills or historical reasoning skills to properly evaluate primary sources within the context of a time period or era.
  • These skills include reading comprehension, analysis, interpretation, and argumentation.
  • Historical thinking skills are useful because they allow historians and researchers to develop unique accounts of past events or time periods within a specific culture.
  • Historical thinking skills also assist historians in determining the causes and effects of specific historical events, as well as their impact on the present day.

Queries to think upon:

  • Is it possible to accurately recreate the past?
    • Is there enough data to make causal claims?
    • Is it possible to uphold the values of the past in their entirety, or is it possible to reinterpret the past depending on the lens we use?
    • Is there a scientific process involved in the study of history, or is it simply memorised static content?
  • Professor Gary Nash and his colleagues responded to these inquiries. Perhaps there are some takeaways from that experience.

Historical Thinking Instruments:

  • Because the people of India are the source of India’s sovereignty, citizens must be equipped with historical thinking tools in order to participate effectively in a democracy.
    • An examination of history textbooks from various school districts reveals that student engagement in historical thinking is dismally low.
    • There are several frameworks that have been shown to develop strong historical thinking, such as the SCIM-C (Summarising, Contextualizing, Inferring, Monitoring, and Corroborating) or ARCH (Assessing, Reporting, and Corroborating) (Assessment Center for History).
    • Students participating in activities use five types of historical thinking skills: o chronological thinking; o historical comprehension; o historical analysis and interpretation; o historical research capabilities; o historical issues-analysis and decision-making.

Conclusion

  • The Delhi Board of School Education agreed with the International Baccalaureate to implement the latter’s global curriculum framework in government schools.
    • Other State boards must also work hard to improve the history curriculum. Even the poorest students strive for the best education possible.
    • The 81st Indian History Congress will be held at Madras Christian College in Chennai on December 27-29, 2022, and will be closely monitored.

February 2023
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