The main topic of the project is Reevaluate The Progressive Era. As this era covers various events, people and reforms, there are a fabulous variety of primary sources. They include president speeches, letters of reformers, immigrant records, articles of professionals such as doctors and journalists, pictures, paintings and government reports. The reason why I choose this era is though it’s progressive from current perspective, it had many controversies that caused fierce debates and had some reforms which were seen as scientific but now as unreasonable such as Prohibition and eugenics. These controversies leave space for students to practice historical thinking. By evaluating the primary sources and by their own research, students are expected to form their own opinion of a reform, an event or a person rather than take what a history textbook says.
My target audience is college students. To train them to think historically, I will give an assignment that asks them to pick one of many topics I list and examine the primary sources of it. They will make a tentative conclusion without learning historical thinking and write an essay of their thought by answering the questions. After that, they will learn the basics of historical thinking by following a list of questions and read literature on historical thinking. Then they will reexamine the primary sources of the topic they choose and write another essay. They may or may not hold the same views as in the previous essay but they need to give the reasons why. The next step is peer review. The students will read each other’s work and provide evaluation and the new information on another student’s topic, if there is any. This exchange of idea is to inspire students to have more thought and rethink their historical thinking. The final step is to let students make their own conclusion on the topic they choose after self-study and the exchange of ideas with others. The project provides an opportunity for students to learn and practice historical thinking which gives them the ability to understand the past and the present more accurately, cultivating the empathy they did not possess or share.