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Yesterday and Today

On-line version ISSN 2309-9003
Print version ISSN 2223-0386

Y&T  n.3 Vanderbijlpark Jan. 2008


Teaching how to make specific historical causal claims



Edmund Zizwe Mazibuko

Examinations Council of Swaziland




The theme of the conference is a celebration of history teaching in the 350th year of schooling in South Africa. A lot of developments have happened during with regard to the teaching and understanding of history as a subject. In order to appreciate these developments in the classroom, students should be able to make specific historical claims. Making specific historical causal claims of the form 'A caused that B' is one of the most important things that a person learns.
However, the making of causal claims is not confined to the teaching and learning context. School children of whatever age, are in a position of making specific historical causal claims, and do this in varying degrees of skill and standards. The purpose of effective history teaching should be to develop in students a deeper understanding of historical processes. Whilst historical claims can be made about all sorts of things, in this paper, attention will be confined to those claims that have direct relevance to the teaching and learning situation in history. The paper identifies critical issues that need to be considered to make this succeed in the history classroom.



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E Nagel, 1965. Types of causal explanation in science, in Cause and Effect, ed. Daniel Lerner, The Free Press, New York, p.12.         [ Links ]

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The selection is artificial in that it is man-made rather than natural and not artificial in that it is based on reasons rather than arbitrary.

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EZ Mazibuko, 2008. Developments in history teaching at secondary school level in Swaziland: lessons from classroom research, May, Yesterday and Today, 2, p.1.         [ Links ]

S Gamedze, 2003. Perceptions of history students and teachers about the status of school history: towards an effective application of the constructivist approach, Unpublished M. Ed dissertation, University of Swaziland.         [ Links ]



* I am pleased to acknowledge the helpful comments from my history methods students in the M. Ed programme. Some may argue that the cause and the effect may occur simultaneously but I think that nothing in this paper hangs on that issue. The point of 'historical' in 'specific historical causal claims' is to distinguish such claims from specific causal claims of the form 'this "X will cause that Y'.

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