I have satisfied the stipulations in the Critical Thinking and Problem Solving outcome mostly through working within my own major, but there have been considerable contributions from coursework in other areas as well. The manner in which to think critically and solve problems in the field of History assumes a different character than that of other subject areas. Thinking critically in my major is more intellectual, and the “problems” you are solving may be found for example if there are in lapses of information on a particular topic, or in what is labeled as Revisionist History.
Historical thinking, among its many attributes, allows one to relate the past to the present and discover cause and effect relationships. Because many of the issues of today are rooted in the past, identifying where, when, how and why a problem began is crucial if you want to fully understand it and possibly find a solution. Historians analyze events and put them into perspective. New information may be uncovered, but what is equally as important is the way we interpret that information that is already out there. The word revisionism these days has a negative connotation because of the arguments across the country about what to include in the core curriculum, however it is merely the reinterpretation of information. This means that as time goes on, and people and societies change, so too will the way in which we understand each other and the world. In the latter part of the Twentieth century there was a shift away from militaristic history and a newfound focus on those that were not typically written about, like women, slaves, or any other sort of minority. Revising history to include people or things that were not considered to be of significance prior to now, is a critical thinking tool that is being employed more and more. This is a topic that has been addressed over and over in my courses, and particularly in my Historical Methods course.
Critical thinking and problem solving are performed during the analysis of primary source documents. This could be a letter, map, decree, speech, newspaper clipping, book, diary, and so on. The writer or creator of something must be identified. It is important to be aware of any potential biases in the source, and possibly even biases of your own that could affect your opinion.