Acts of the imagination: an inquiry in using Collingwood's Historical Methodology in Texas History classes
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Previous research has focused on various methods, strategies and concepts that impact the teaching of history in classrooms (Brush & Saye, 2002; Hicks, Doolittle & Ewing, 2004; Levstik & Barton, 2011; Shepherd, 2010). However, research that examines the practice of using the reenactment process in regard to teachers’ beliefs and perceptions is missing in today’s literature. The theoretical foundations of this study were grounded in the social constructivism of Vygotsky (1978), Bower & Lobdell (1998) along with the substantive framework of Collingwood’s (1946) reenactment process. The purpose of this study was to investigate the ways in which Texas history teachers used the reenactment method in their classrooms. The investigation took place at a Texas coastal school district where the participants were Texas history teachers at the local junior high. This multi-case study was informed by an interpretivist framework and emphasized the substantive framework of Collingwood’s historical reenactment thinking strategy. Finally, a cross-case analysis was used to perform a thematic analysis around the three individual cases. The findings indicate that all of the participants shared different experiences while integrating the reenactment process into their classrooms. These different experiences were unique and indicative of each of the participant’s case write-ups. They were further supported in the thematic patterns that emerged by way of cross-case analysis: (a) There’s More Than One Path to Historical Literacy: But They’re not always paved in Gold, (b) Levels of Engagement: At What Cost? and (c) Can we all Get Along? Searching for a Happy Medium. The findings also showed that each of the participants experiences with the reenactment process provided a good foundation for the delivery of a critical thinking strategy in the classroom. The research in this study revealed various implications for secondary social studies classes and their use of the reenactment method. There is potentially here, a significant opportunity to improve the acquisition and understanding of historical events at all secondary levels of social studies classes. There is, in my opinion enough qualitative evidence to recommend additional studies behind the reenactment method.