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Problematic Prior Learning in American History


  1. Chronological Thinking (Standard 1)

    PPL Accepted Understanding

    Change automatically involves progress - leads to a condescending view of those who lived in the past...a "deficit past." People in the past were not as smart as we are.

    Acts deemed unprogressive in one era are deemed unprogressive in other eras (e.g. all black schools in the 1940s and all black schools during Reconstruction). Students could not consider black schools as a sign of progress during Reconstruction.

    Black and white photos are automatically "old" and "older" than color photos.

    Modern ways of thinking can be used to explain why people in the past acted as they did.

    Causes are discrete entities, acting independently of one another. An event (A) that appears just before another event (B) on a timeline caused B to happen.

    Causes are always special events. If a special event did not happen, nothing happened.

    Nothing else was happening during a time period represented on a timeline except that which appears on the timeline.

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  2. Analysis (Standard 2)

    PPL Accepted Understanding

    Historical data is to be taken at face value.

    If a person is "from the time," this automatically means that he or she was in a position to know.

    Words usded in the past have the same meaning then as they do now.

    The reliability of a source is a fixed property. It is always reliable or unreliable under all circumstances.

    1. Bias (3)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      Once bias is detected in a source, it is rendered useless and jettisoned.

      Some sources are unbiased.

      Bias is associated with lying. If bias is detected, the author/creator is lying. Bias viewed as a good/bad dichotomy (truth or lie).

    2. Primary v Secondary Sources (12)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      Primary sources are better than secondary sources.

      A primary source is the first source one uses or approaches.

      A primary source is one that is needed/necessary.

      A primary source is one's most important source.

      A primary source is an original as opposed to a copy.

      A primary source is one's main source of information.

      A primary source an object/article/or any piece of historical evidence that is the "real thing" (not a replica). The idea of it being the "real thing" was not an uncommon repsonse on the Year 2 post test.

      Accounts of the past written well after an event are always less reliable - an idea generalized from primary sources to evidence based accounts pieced together by historians.

      Unless you have the original document, it is a secondary source.

      Secondary sources are less reliable than primary sources.

      A primary source is a source or thing that one uses most frequently.

      Any source that dates back to the time of an event is a primary source.

  3. Interpretation (Standard 3)

    PPL Accepted Understanding

    Opinions and interpretations are the same thing.

    There is "one best story" about past events.

    What makes a "true story" is that all the component singular factual statements within the story are true.

    There is a "given past." Stories about the past are equivalent to something "out there."

    History is just known. It is information in authoritative textbooks.

    A true account is a copy of the past.

    More recent text book accounts will be "right."

    Historians are moving away from older interpretations.

    History and the past are one and the same things.

    1. Conflicting Accounts (5)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      The past can mean whatever we want it to.

      Different or conflicting stories of the past arise when people deliberately distort the truth.

      Different or conflicting stories of the past arise when part of the story has not been found.

      Different or conflicting stories of the past arise when historians make mistakes.

      It is impossible to choose between conflicting accounts. One opinion/interpretation is just as good as another.

    2. Weighing Evidence (5)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      Deciding what to believe is a matter of counting sources; the majority wins.

      Documents that contain "more information" are better sources. Document sized mattered.

      Documents with "more details" are better sources.

      If a text includes equal amounts of information about both sides of a debate (Pullman v. the workers, for example), it must be a better source.

      Documents that enumerate points appear to carry more weight.

    3. Knowing About the Past (5)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      The past is inaccessible. We can't know about the past because we weren't there.

      Eyewitnesses tell us truthfully what happened.

      You need to be able to see for yourself (If you weren't there to see for yourself, then you need access to someone who was.

      If a person is "from the time," this automatically means that he or she was in a position to know.

      Knowing about the past depends on eyewitness reports.

  4. Content (Standard 4)

    PPL Accepted Understanding
    No posts found
    1. American Revolution (3)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      Loyalists were white, male, Anglicans as embodied in the persona of Thomas Hutchinson.

      All of the signers of the Declaration signed on July 4th. Impression given by John Trumbull's painting.

      The United States declared its independence on July 4th, 1776.

    2. The New Nation (5)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      The Kentucky and Virginia resolutions invoked the doctrine of nullification.

      The word "impeach" means to remove a person from office.

      The 3/5ths clause in the Constitution gave 3 out of 5 slaves the right to vote.

      "The Iroquois Confederation was an important influence on the framing of the Constitution in 1787."

      People directly elect the president of the United States.

    3. Westward Expansion (3)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      Progress for one group is progress for all [groups].

      Native Americans lived in Tipis because they were poor.

      All Indians of the 19th Century looked like George Caitlin paintings.

    4. Slavery (14)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      The reason that slavery was not abolished in the Constitution was most people in 1787 supported slavery.

      The Constitution’s provision to abolish the slave trade after 1808 actually led to a reduction in the number of slaves in the United States.

      All Southerners were slave owners and all Northerners opposed slavery.

      Machines reduce the need for human labor (relevant to the cotton gin and subsequent rise in demand for slaves).

      Anyone who owned slaves must have been a racist.

      All slave life was alike.

      All blacks were slaves prior to the Civil War.

      Slavery was the same across time in the U.S.

      All slave work involved picking cotton.

      Most southerners owned slaves.

      All slave owners were white.

      Slavery only involved whites owning blacks.

      Slavery in the U.S. was the same as slavery everywhere.

      Slavery only existed in the U.S.

    5. Reform (4)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      Men and women are treated equally today.

      Women in the 1840’s had no rights.

      Abolitionists were united in their approaches/strategies.

      All abolitionists wanted freedom and equality for African-Americans.

    6. Civil War (4)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      Delaware was a free state up through the Civil War.

      Lincoln publicly supported a policy to abolish slavery upon taking office in 1861.

      Slavery was the only reason for waging the Civil War.

      Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed all of the slaves.

    7. Reconstruction (1)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      Radical Republicans portrayed as the "bad guys" during Reconstruction because they attempted to block Presidential.

    8. Overseas Expansion (1)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      The United States had no colonial possessions, or the United States never intervened in other countries prior to World War I.

    9. World War 1 (1)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      World War I was the first war.

    10. Age of Roosevelts (1)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      Banks are "money warehouses."

    11. Cold War (7)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      Soviet ideology and government were soley responsible for the Cold War.

      The Cold War was fought exclusively in the 1950s and 1960s.

      The Cold War conflict was limited to the United States and the Soviet Union.

      The Cold War was no different than a “hot” war.

      Soviets were in Eastern Europe after WWII because they aspired to aggressively expand their totalitarian system (they were there because they had to push the Nazis back then create a buffer against future aggression from Germany).

      Communism was a failed economic system in the post WWII era (actually led to massive improvements in standards of living in Eastern Europe in the short term. Capitalism survived because it was tweaked. Soviet communism did not).

      U.S. was the decisive factor in defeating the Nazis (actually the Soviets).

    12. Civil Rights (5)

      PPL Accepted Understanding

      All schools desegregated immediately after the Brown decision and the problem was over.

      Delaware never had a problem with segregation.

      Brown v Board of Education stands alone as the case that led to desegregation.

      Rosa Parks was sitting in the front of the bus when she was asked to give up her seat.

      The Civil Rights movement began in the 1950s.