Historical analogies are everywhere in political discourse, but history teachers know to tread carefully. Even with relentless pressure to make history relevant, analogies can be as dangerous as they are appealing. On the one hand, cognitive research has showcased the usefulness of analogies in helping students distinguish between essential and superficial features of a phenomenon. On the other hand, historical knowledge does not easily boil down to core theorems or conceptual truths that hold constant across time and place. Comparing two moments in history does not expose an immutable law; rather, it creates a space to appreciate both what has changed and what has stayed the same. This paper aims to discuss this issue.
In this paper, the authors draw upon the research on document-based lessons to craft an academically rigorous, intellectually authentic and practical tool for teachers to address the connections between past and present in their classrooms. In the process of doing so, the authors scrutinize comparisons between the fascism of the 1930s and the contemporary populism of President Trump as presented in today’s media.
In this paper, the authors offer an instructional tool to support teachers in transforming pat and reductive analogies into opportunities for rich historical learning. The historical analogy lesson template revolves around a central question, engages students in careful document analysis and includes instructional scaffolds that assist students in assessing the similarities and differences between both sides of the analogy. Using this tool can help students better decipher political discourse and map current events onto historical processes of continuity and change.
Few tools exist to support teachers in facilitating rich learning about the connections between the past and present. As historical analogies are part of the language of political discourse, it is incumbent upon teachers to prepare students to understand and evaluate analogies in rich ways as part of the preparation for citizenship. The paper outlines a structure for teachers to approach these topics.
CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited