Welcome to the history section of the site. This page will help you to take ownership of history via a quick overview, and four padlets that offer you quotes, knowledge questions, real-world issues, and key thinkers relating to this area of knowledge.

You can use this content both to understand this component of TOK, and support discussions and arguments that you offer in your essay and exhibition.

History: a quick overview

History is the study of the past, providing us with a lens through which to understand the present and, arguably, shape the future. It encompasses a tapestry of human experiences, actions, and societies across ages. To navigate this field, we encounter several key concepts.

Evidence is the cornerstone of historical inquiry, demanding rigorous examination of sources, documents, and artifacts to unravel the truth about bygone eras. Interpretation is also an essential concept, recognizing that diverse perspectives often lead to varying explanations and understandings of historical events. The notion of objectivity prompts questions about the historian’s impartiality, as personal biases can influence the construction of historical narratives.

Two influential thinkers in the realm of history from diverse backgrounds are Howard Zinn and Mary Beard. Howard Zinn, an American historian, challenged conventional historical accounts by offering alternative viewpoints in his book “A People’s History of the United States,” shedding light on marginalized voices and social struggles. Mary Beard, a British classicist and historian, reinvigorated the study of ancient history by

examining the lives of ordinary people in ancient Rome, offering fresh perspectives on classical civilizations.

Real-life issues in history often centre around power dynamics and historical responsibility. The ongoing discourse on decolonizing history highlights the need to rectify historical injustices and reevaluate narratives rooted in colonial perspectives. Simultaneously, discussions about historical responsibility confront questions of accountability for past wrongs, emphasizing the role of history in shaping collective values and truths.

Engaging with history while studying TOK invites students to critically analyze the past, challenge dominant narratives, and appreciate the cultural complexities that shape our world today. It higlights the importance of evidence-based inquiry, diverse perspectives, and the ethical considerations involved in constructing historical knowledge. History, as a dynamic and ever-evolving discipline, provides invaluable insights into our shared human experience and the forces that have shaped our global society.

1 QUOTES Who said “History is Philosophy teaching by example”?

Explore these quotes on history by a wide range of different thinkers. Which quotes are the most and least insightful? How they challenge our assumptions about history? What do they reveal about links between history and other aspects of the TOK course?

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2 KNOWLEDGE QUESTIONS Can we ‘choose’ to remember history in a certain way?

Identifying and exploring knowledge questions (KQs) is at the heart of TOK, prompting us to reflect on our knowledge, evaluate whether it’s be based on a flawed or incomplete assumptions, and provide us with a focus point to improve our understanding of the world.

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3 REAL-WORLD ISSUES Is history really written by the victors?

These examples will help you to understand how TOK ideas manifest in the real-world, take ownership of history, link TOK to the latest global issues, and become an authentic critical thinker. They will also help you to justify and explore the discussions you offer in your essay and exhibition.

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4 KEY THINKERS Why did EH Carr say you should study the historian, not the facts?

The thinkers in this padlet will help you to consolidate your understanding of history, and challenge your assumptions about the world. You can also draw on their ideas to support your essay and exhibition discussions, and add depth and authority to the claims you make about knowledge.

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Follow these links to access a range of notes, essays, and observations on history. Use the deeper dives docs to research this area of knowledge, and hone your TOK essay arguments and discussions.

1 Can we say anything for sure in history?

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