Historiography: Theory of Knowledge (TOK) in History - Three 1-hour sessions

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Overview

The following materials have been designed to help deliver Theory of Knowledge (TOK) in History at IB (International Baccalaureate) Level to my students at the International School of Toulouse.

As well as making regular reference to TOK issues within normal lessons, I also deliver three sessions of one hour each to all of Year 12 (whether or not they study history), and round the unit off by setting a relevant TOK essay title from the IB syllabus (these are provided annually in advance).


Session 1: Sources

[student worksheet | teacher notes]

Introduction: Why and How is History Produced?

The Historians and their Sources

This session makes use of the following two video clips which illustrate the problem of the 'language gap' when trying to interpret historical sources:

Video Clip 1: Great Train Robbery Video Clip 2: World War Two Pilots
 

Session 2: Historians

[Student worksheet | Teacher notes]

This session makes use of the following two video clips, both of which demonstrate the danger of taking even 'documentary' evidence at face value:

Video Clip 1: World War Two Video Clip 2: The World at War:
Demonisation of Hitler
 day

Session 3: Histories

[Student worksheet | Teacher notes]

This session makes use of the following two video clips which demonstrate the ideas of accidentalism and determinism respectively.

 

Appendix: A revision summary grid of historiographical terms

Observations: Leopold von Ranke's Historicism movement in the late 19th Century laid the framework for modern historiography. From the scientific methods of source analysis it promoted, historians quickly moved from describing "what" happened and towards a consideration of "why". In the late 20th Century, however, the postmodernists argued that Historicism was fundamentally flawed: all historical sources were both biased and incomplete so it was impossible to reach any valid conclusions. This created "The Crisis of History" which has called into question the whole validity of the discipline.

[click here for a printable version]

 


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