Innovations in UP History Honours attracts wide interest

Posted on February 24, 2020

Prof Karen Harris of the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies (DHHS) and Dr Ria van der Merwe of the UP Archives (UPA) were invited by the Independent Examination Board (IEB) to present a paper on a project they developed for the History Honours students in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies at the  National History User Group Conference on 8 February 2020.

The theme of the conference was “Engaging Hearts and Minds in the Pursuit of Historical Knowledge”. The paper was originally presented at a conference of the South African History Teachers Society (SAHTS) last year. 

The paper described the introduction of a new component that exposes students to another aspect of the historian’s “craft”. According to Prof Harris, the purpose of the innovation is to go “beyond the mere gathering of facts and information” and provide students “with opportunities to apply … theoretical aspects in practice”. Instead of merely working with primary documents and meeting with an archivist, students are given the opportunity to engage with primary documents in their raw state, appraise them, sort them, and contextualise them.  This experiential learning affords the students the opportunity to learn more about the “craft” of historians than the mere “content”. 

Taking this successful endeavour further, Prof Harris and Dr Van der Merwe are developing ways in which schools at both primary and secondary level can also venture into this domain.

Published by Ian Macqueen

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