In social studies, the examination of issues forms a critical part of learning. The same is particularly true in the history classroom. For a current issue, the goal is to help the student to reach a point where he or she can look at an issue from multiple viewpoints, take a position, and provide a supporting rationale. In a history course, the issue to be analysed is likely one that has happened in the past and the outcome is part of the historical record (refer to page 87 for an example). Nonetheless, some of the critical-thinking steps that are used in any issues-based curriculum still pertain.
The following framework provides a template for examining issues in the Newfoundland and Labrador history course. Like the documents-based question, the examination of an issue may also require students to examine primary and secondary sources.
Examining Issues in History
1. What was the main issue?
2. What positions did key players take at the time?
3. What arguments were used by one side to support their position?
4. What arguments were used by the opposing side to support their position?
5. What beliefs or values are at odds in this issue?
6. Looking back now, do you think the outcome was a good one? Explain.