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Historical Apprenticeship and the Historian’s Craft A Competency-Based Pathway

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 April 2017

Alexandre Berthon-Dumurgier
Affiliation:
Institut européen de coopération et de développement (IECD)

Abstract

A skills-based approach encourages us to see learning as a journey between the simplest and the most elaborate level of competence, which can be developed over a whole lifetime. Teachers in a middle school in Vitry-sur-Seine (to the south of Paris) have developed a competency-based approach to history that focuses on the key techniques of professional historians, including developing hypotheses by analyzing sets of documents and writing historical narratives. The link between “academic history” and “school history” strengthens students’ learning.

Type
Historical Research and History Teaching in Secondary Schools
Copyright
Copyright © Les Éditions de l’EHESS 2015

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References

1. Legris, Patricia, “L’écriture des programmes d’histoire en France (1944–2010). Sociologie historique de la production d’un instrument d’une politique éducative” (PhD diss., Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2010), 537 Google Scholar, http://tel.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-00579269/.

2. “Middle-school curricula favor an inquiry-based approach for science and technology.” “Programmes de l’enseignement de physique-chimie,” Bulletin officiel spécial 6 (2008): http://cache.media.education.gouv.fr/file/special_6/52/7/Programme_physique-chimie_33527.pdf, p. 4.

3. This is also a question of interest in the United States, as shown by the Stanford University website, http://sheg.stanford.edu. Founded in 2002, the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) has notably put in place the program “Reading Like a Historian,” which develops skills linked to inquiry-based learning from historical documents.

6. Ricœur, Paul, Memory, History, Forgetting, trans. Blamey, Kathleen and Pellauer, David (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. This concept was developed by de Certeau, Michel in The Writing of History, trans. Conley, Tom (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988)Google Scholar. De Certeau defines it as the interweaving of the connections between the fabrication of history and the society for which it is produced, the techniques historians use to produce their work, and the forms of writing they use in their discourse.

7. Farge, Arlette, The Allure of the Archive, trans. Scott-Railton, Thomas (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8. Testimony of Betty Harris, miner, according to a British parliamentary report of 1842, cited in Pike, E. Royston, Human Documents of the Industrial Revolution in Britain (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1966)Google Scholar.

9. Ricœur, Paul, Time and Narrative, vol. 1, trans. McLaughlin, Kathleen and Pellauer, David (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984)Google Scholar.

10. Histoire, géographie, éducation civique. Aide à la mise en œuvre des programmes pour la 6e (Versailles: Centre de Recherche et de développement pédagogiques, 2008)Google Scholar.

11. Programmes de l’enseignement d’histoire-géographie-éducation civique,” Bulletin officiel spécial 6 (2008)Google Scholar: http://media.education.gouv.fr/file/special_6/51/6/Programme_hist_geo_education_civique_6eme_33516.pdf, p. 17.

12. Following the suggestion made in autumn 2008 by Danielle Champigny, who had been following our work on the competency-based approach. A member of the expert group that developed the new curricula, Champigny was an inspector in the Créteil school district at the time.

13. Legris, “L’écriture des programmes d’histoire,” 529.

14. Introduction to Programmes de l’enseignement d’histoire-géographie-éducation civique,” Bulletin officiel spécial 6 (2008): 2 Google Scholar, http://media.education.gouv.fr/file/special_ 6/22/0/programme_hist-geo-EC_intro_33220.pdf, p. 2.

15. Lautier, Nicole, À la rencontre de l’histoire (Villeneuve-d’Ascq: Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 1997), 213–22 Google Scholar.

16. Marc Deleplace, Le récit comme accès à la connaissance historique. Réflexions didactiques sur le récit historique, http://www.ihtp.cnrs.fr/historiographie/sites/historiographie/IMG/pdf/Deleplace_Le_recit_comme_acces_a_la_connaissance_historique-2.pdf.

17. Historians tell of true events in which man is the actor.Veyne, Paul, Writing History: Essay on Epistemology, trans. Moore-Rinvolucri, Mina (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984)Google Scholar, x. “Layered text” (texte feuilleté) is the expression used in de Certeau’s Writing of History ; “full text” (texte plein) is that of Prost, Antoine, Douze leçons sur l’histoire (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1996)Google Scholar.

18. See the works of Didier Cariou, Jacques Sérandour, and Marc Deleplace.

19. Prost, Douze leçons sur l’histoire, 158, cited by Cariou, Didier, “Récit historique et construction du savoir en classe d’histoire au lycée,” Le cartable de Clio. Revue romande et tessinoise sur les didactiques de l’histoire 6 (2006): 174–84 Google Scholar.

20. Didier Cariou, Une recherche sur le récit historique et son utilisation en formation, http://ecehg.ens-lyon.fr/ECEHG/colloquehgec/2005%20Lyon/ateliers-postures/cariou.pdf, p. 2.

21. Historical time “is the very plasma in which events are immersed, and the field within which they become intelligible.” |Bloch, Marc, The Historian’s Craft, trans. Putnam, Peter (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992), 23 Google ScholarPubMed.

22. “Groupe de relecture des programmes du pôle des humanités au collège,” progress report, April 4, 2003, Archives nationales, Centre des archives contemporaines, 2007 0019, article 39.

23. Cited by Legris, “L’écriture des programmes d’histoire,” 529.

24. Our work was conceived as a support for the implementation of the new programs. The proposal I developed with my colleague Vanessa Dottelonde-Rivoallan (http://hgc.ac-creteil.fr/Travailler-par-compétences) was presented to the working group on the new curricula. The reception of the inspectors and educators present that day was very positive, although I felt from the beginning that they were distancing themselves from an idea they claimed was very “exciting” but that was still inaccessible to most teachers. I left the presentation feeling that I had emphasized the importance of support for teachers through initial training and continuing professional education that would minimize the imbalance between the “prescribed” curriculum (where the teacher gives students opportunities to develop historical narrative as a skill) and the actual curriculum that is implemented by teachers. How could we get teachers to incorporate writing workshops into their learning sessions? The support system proposed by the Department of Education to deal with the major challenge of implementing the new curricula seemed insufficient for the 2009–10 school year. The training offered by our school district thus devoted little space to historical narrative as a skill to be developed by students. The supporting resources play an essential role, but are no substitute for training when it comes to important innovations such as the introduction of a competency-based approach. There was also a delay in making these resources available on the Éduscol website, which led to dissatisfaction among teachers. The impression of a lack of foresight in the implementation of the most innovative aspects of the curricula was confirmed by a member of the group of experts I met at one of the four inter-school-district meetings organized in 2009.

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