Historical scan adapted to make sense of history and identify lines of inquiry

Suppose we are a group (such as a class) aiming to a) help each other make sense of a historical account pertaining to some issue and b) prepare us to identify an angle of inquiry on that issue, we can adapt an Historical scan in the way described below the picture of a scan from a class of mine in 2010:


The historical scan would have three layers or strands: Wider social and global context; the issue; Personal developments. Each participant in the activity would have 3×3 post-its of three colors. On blue post-its we would note (in large block letters) events or other features of the article that struck us on each layer (aiming for about 60 post-its from the group as a whole). On red post-its we would note omissions or under-emphasized events, issues, people, etc. On the green post-its we would note inquiries we think are worth pursuing for Case 2. Some of these post-its and most of the green post-its would be composed after the blue post-its were placed on the 3-stranded historical scan timeline and we digested the composite picture using the series of questions typical of a historical scan (see link above).

In addition to addressing the two goals above, having a photo of the outcome of this activity would help us to recall the context in which any of our focused inquiries could be re-embedded and the interelations among our inquiries.


About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

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