Two key concepts to writing an effective thesis statement

The instruction to 'imagine you are a soldier in the trenches' is not enough. People in the past may have had quite different perspectives on a particular event or issue, depending on factors such as their age, gender, life experience, social position, political outlook, values and beliefs. It is important to provide an overview, a chronological backdrop for the period, before introducing activities focusing on continuity and change. Activities most likely to encourage empathetic understanding are based on real historical figures, are grounded in evidence, require students to examine people's perspective and motivation within a particular historical context and provide opportunities for students to engage in decision-making, problem-solving or debate. For more examples see: The key concepts provide a focus for historical investigation, a framework for organising historical information and a guide for developing historical understanding. History is based on the use of sources and evidence. In history a source is anything that can be used to investigate the past. Two key concepts to writing an effective thesis statement.

Concepts in practice – primary  (PDF, 140 KB)
Concepts in practice – secondary  (PDF, 160 KB)In history, investigating continuity and change requires students to explore aspects of life that have remained the same and those that have changed over time. Sources produced after the time being investigated, such as a textbook, documentary or film, are called secondary sources. Effects may differ from group to group and may change over time. Concepts in practice – secondary  (PDF, 160 KB)This Project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Two historians might produce quite different interpretations of the same event for a number of reasons, including their reason for researching the topic, the sources of evidence they relied on and their perspective or point of view. This requires sound knowledge of the historical context and a conscious effort to 'make sense' of human motives and actions within that context. Teaching empathy requires much more preparation than simply instructing students to place themselves with their modern sensibilities into a historical context. Concepts in practice – primary  (PDF, 140 KB)
Concepts in practice – secondary  (PDF, 160 KB)Historians use cause and effect as a way of explaining factors that led to a historical event or development and the consequent results. Illustrated and annotated timelines can provide a very useful resource for teaching about continuity and change. For more examples see: While human actions can be important, causation is more likely to involve a network of related factors. Younger students tend to believe that events in the past happened because someone wanted them to happen. There may be multiple effects and intended and unintended effects. There are often multiple causes, long and short term causes and social and/or economic and/or political causes. Concepts in practice – primary  (PDF, 140 KB)
Concepts in practice – secondary  (PDF, 160 KB)Contestability in history arises from the open-ended nature of historical interpretation.

Each page within this section provides a concise overview of a different key concept and aggregates a variety of resources created by the  and the Center. Early experiences affect the development of brain architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health. Serve and return interactions shape brain architecture. History places emphasis on teaching and learning the following key historical concepts. Concepts in practice – primary  (PDF, 140 KB)
Concepts in practice – secondary  (PDF, 160 KB)A person's perspective is their point of view, the position from which they see and understand events going on around them. How many people were affected? Both primary and secondary sources are vital to the study of history. Evidence is relevant information obtained from sources that is useful for a particular inquiry. A historical figure, for example, could have been seen as a freedom fighter by some and a terrorist by others. Along with historical knowledge and skills, the Australian Curriculum: How widespread, how deeply or for how long were people's lives affected? See: These key scientific concepts are the building blocks of the core story of child development. What was seen as significant in the past may not be considered important today, and what was significant for one group in the past may not have been significant for other groups. Students can learn to assign significance by asking questions such as: Finding evidence in sources  (PDF, 445 KB)
Analysing sources  (PDF, 165 KB)
Myths of source work  (PDF, 159 KB)For more examples see: It can be an object (artefact) that remains from the past, such as a tool, coin, letter, gravestone, photograph or building. These concepts represent the 'big ideas' of the discipline of history. Students who understand these key concepts are able to operate 'within the discipline', to think and act in ways similar to those used by historians, at levels appropriate for their stage of development.

Concepts in practice – primary  (PDF, 140 KB)
Concepts in practice – secondary  (PDF, 160 KB)Historical empathy involves students in trying to see and understand events from the perspective of someone living in another time and place. Through appropriate activities, younger students can identify continuities and changes (as similarities and differences), while older students can explore why things have stayed the same or changed, the nature and pace of change and the impact of change. Significance may vary over time and from group to group. It is this diversity of perspectives that makes history so interesting. For more examples see: How did people view the event or issue at the time? Concepts in practice – primary  (PDF, 140 KB)
Concepts in practice – secondary  (PDF, 160 KB)Significance is the importance that is assigned to particular aspects of the past, for example an event or issue or the contribution of an individual or group. Evidence can be used to refute or support a claim, construct a narrative or explanation or support an argument or interpretation. See: An example of contestability in Australian history is the debate over whether the arrival of Europeans in 1788 was an invasion or settlement. Examining debates between historians can help students understand how historians use sources to construct historical accounts and how their approach and interpretation can be shaped by their purpose and perspective, including their political outlook. For more examples see: Significance and perspective in Australian history  (PDF,  116 KB)
Assigning significance (PDF, 113, KB)For more examples see: Deciding on significance is a complex process because it involves making judgements that depend on perspective and purpose. Students should be encouraged to represent their thinking about cause and effect diagrammatically, as causal webs, fishbones and flow diagrams, rather than simple linear progressions. For more examples see: Students find this evidence by analysing sources and asking a series of questions. Or it can be an account or interpretation of the past, such as an online biography, a book or film about an individual from the past. Sources that come from the time being investigated are called primary sources.

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