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Powerful knowledge in historical teaching and learning

Arthur Chapman (University College London), Kenneth Nordgren (Karlstad University) and Tyson Retz (UiS) discuss the topic of "Powerful knowledge in historical teaching and learning".

Powerful knowledge for what?

Kenneth Nordgren

This presentation explores how history teaching can bring to bear the concept of powerful knowledge on dimensions of socialisation, complex real-world problems and contemporary historical culture. There are fundamental differences between disciplinary and everyday knowledge discourses, which are constitutive for school activities and thus central for framing the curriculum. Nevertheless, education, as well as the production of specialised knowledge, takes place within historically and culturally framed societies. Accordingly, educational systems encompass both outspoken and hidden goals of socialisation. These goals affect but are also affected by goals of qualification. This presentation suggests that powerful knowledge is a relational concept, i.e., a possible framework to both acknowledge the differences between knowledge discourses, as well as their interdependence in educational practice. In order to support teachers, it is not enough to equate powerful knowledge with specialised, disciplinary knowledge. The question is ‘powerful for what?’ To find answers to that question in a way that profoundly influences the level of implemented curricula will require collaboration between teachers as well as between teachers and the research-based epistemic community.

Powerful knowledge and conceptual change

Arthur Chapman

This presentation draws on research into how school students understand conceptual change in historical accounts and interpretations. It explores links between conceptual change research, ‘conceptual constructivism’ and the Future 3 / Powerful Knowledge paradigm. The paper argues that the aim of building powerful knowing in history classrooms and the aims of conceptual change research are closely related, that these modes of approaching disciplinary learning are compatible and that building powerful knowing in history depends on attending to pupils’ domain specific second-order preconceptions and misconceptions about the discipline of history.

Discussant’s response / Questions from the audience