The History Profession Doesn't Recognize

General Principles of Historical Knowledge

Electronic searches of the full text of nine representative examples of current, widely-adopted instructional materials in the field of history yielded no matches for the search terms: “principles of historical knowledge,” “principle of history,” “principles of history,” “history's principles,” and “historical principles.”  (I also searched for terms that might be synonyms for principles of history including "lessons from history" and "historical tendencies.") Searches were made of the following materials.

a. History textbooks used in high school, Advanced Placement, and college courses:

Peter N. Stearns, Michael B. Adas, Stuart B. Schwartz, and Marc Jason Gilbert, The Global Experience, Combined Volume, electronic textbook edition, (Pearson, 2015)

Jennifer D. Keene, Saul T. Cornell, and Edward T. O'Donnel, Visions of America: A History of the United States, Combined Volume, electronic textbook edition, (Pearson, 2017)

William J. Duiker and Jackson J. Spielvogel, World History, electronic textbook edition, (Cenage Learning, 2016)

b. State curriculum standards in history and social studies:

History and Social Science Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools, (Board of Education, Commonwealth of Virginia, 2015)

New York State Grades 9-12 Social Studies Framework, (New York State Education Department, 2015)

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, “Chapter 113, Social Studies, Subchapter C. High School” (Texas Education Agency, 2011)

c. Curriculum guides specifying required content in Advanced Placement history courses:

AP European History Course and Exam Description, (College Board, 2015)

AP United States History Course and Exam Description, (College Board, 2015)

AP World History Course and Exam Description, (College Board, 2016)

While the history-teaching materials cited above made no mention of principles of history, they demonstrated wide acceptance of the concept of general principles by specifically identifying “principles” of numerous other fields.  The textbook World History by Duiker and Spielvogel, for example, discussed principles of research, justice in ancient Egypt, Confucian philosophy, Classical architecture, monarchy, liberty and equality, and Christian morality, among others.  The Virginia curriculum standards specified principles of the scientific revolution, the Declaration of Independence, American constitutional democracy, citizenship, and market economics among others.  Principles of history were conspicuous by their absence.

-November, 2016

© 2001-2017 Michael G. Maxwell, Maxwell Learning LLC