Confronting the Past with Storytelling: Developing Grade 12 Boys’ Critical Thinking Skills Through Retelling Virginia’s History of Racial Terror

  • Boys and Stories (2018-19)

The research question I set out to answer was: “How can investigating and re-telling the forgotten stories of racial violence in Virginia develop critical thinking skills in Grade 12 boys?”

I was particularly interested in this topic because over the last few years as a History teacher, I have had to grapple with some serious personal doubts and misgivings about the way we have structured History education in high school. I worry that we have been overly focused on content and not focused enough on empowering students to develop vital 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking, that will be necessary for them to navigate college and the workplace. I wanted, therefore, to conduct an action research project that could help me and my colleagues better understand what a History class might look like if the balance between skills and content were altered so that each became equally important.