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Boix-Mansilla, Veronica.  "Historical Understanding: Beyond the Past and into the Present" In Knowing, Teaching, and Learning History: National and International Perspectives, edited by Peter N. Stearns, Peter Seixas and Sam Wineburg, 390-418. New York: New York University Press, 2000.


In this chapter Boix-Mansilla looks at the possibilities for using history to understand present-day issues.  Partially funded through the Facing History and Ourselves organization, this study looked at if learning about the Holocaust provided a more contextualized understanding of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  This research found that students often used an ineffectual I-know-this-history-so-I-know-that-experience reasoning when making links between the two genocides even though historical comparisons rely on both similarities and differences in analysis. Boix-Mansilla emphasizes that directed instruction on the process of historical comparison can remedy the weak reasoning demonstrated in the study and cites the literature on the strengths in using history to speak about present events to support this.

Samantha Cutrara