"Why Won't You Just Tell Us the Answer?"

  • Title:"Why Won't You Just Tell Us the Answer?": Teaching Historical Thinking in Grades 7-12
  • Author:Bruce Lesh
  • Publication Date:May 2011
  • Grade Level:7-12
  • ISBN:9781571108128
  • Publisher:Stenhouse

Students may think they want to be given the answer. Yet, when they are actively engaged in investigating the past - the way professional historians do - they find that history class is not about the boring memorization of names, dates, and facts. Instead, it's challenging fun. Historical study that centers on a question, where students gather a variety of historical sources and then develop and defend their answers to that question, allows students to become actual historians immersed in an interpretive study of the past.

Each chapter focuses on a key concept in understanding history and then offers a sample unit on how the concept can be taught. Readers will learn about the following:

  • Exploring Text, Subtext, and Context: President Theodore Roosevelt and the Panama Canal
  • Chronological Thinking and Causality: The Rail Strike of 1877
  • Multiple Perspectives: The Bonus March of 1932
  • Continuity and Change Over Time: Custer's Last Stand
  • Historical Significance: The Civil Rights Movement
  • Historical Empathy: The Truman-MacArthur Debate

By the end of the book, teachers will have learned how to teach history via a lens of interpretive questions and interrogative evidence that allows both student and teacher to develop evidence-based answers to history's greatest questions.


Author Bio

Bruce Lesh was a high school teacher and social studies department chair for twenty-two years in Baltimore County Public Schools, where he taught American history, world history, and Advanced Placement United States Politics and Government. A past president of the Maryland Council for the Social Studies and vice-chair of the National Council for History Education, Bruce published three units on teaching American history using primary sources through the Center for Learning. He has also been published several times in the OAH Magazine of History and written book reviews for The History Teacher. He cofounded and served as a member of the board of directors for the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. In 2008 he was recognized as the precollegiate Teacher of the Year by the Organization of American Historians and in 2013 was named Maryland Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year.

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