• Stalking the Schoolwork Module: Teaching Prospective Teachers to Write Historical Narratives

      McDiarmid, G. Williamson; Vinten-Johansen, P. (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1996)
      Few educational slogans have had more play over the last decade than “writing to learn”. The idea is intuitively appealing: that in striving to summarize, organize, synthesize, develop, and communicate ideas and information, we must, in the process, clarify and extend our own understandings. Many have championed the “writing to learn” cause. In the study described below, the first author, Vinten-Johansen, engaged his undergraduates, all of whom planned to teach, in a structured process of writing historical narratives. His purpose was to help them learn not only to make historical arguments in writing—a capacity that has applications far beyond academic history—but also to analyze the narratives of others as contestable products. In what follows, we examine the opportunities that Vinten-Johansen created to help students learn to write, the successive drafts of original narratives they produced, and their discussions of historical methods and reasoning. Our purpose is to explore whether a highly structured experience in writing historical narratives does help students learn this form of writing and the character of historical knowledge.