How I Wonder What You Are - discussion

Hello everyone. Happy to take any questions on the video and to work through any issues that may arise from your viewing of it!  if you post your question here, I can answer it!

Top Replies

  • This is a great question and I would also say to students that whilst narratives change, there are always events that are similar. I have likened it to the school day before - there are set times/events…

  • Right, sorry about that last attempt! I'll try to recall my question from yesterday...

    First, what a beautiful and helpful talk you published. I really enjoy watching teenagers develop...and then answer…

  • Good divergent essential questions are important.  You need to take the time to develop the questions and Nick Dennis is right you cannot answer complex questions in one lesson.  They are enjoyable and thought…

  • Good divergent essential questions are important.  You need to take the time to develop the questions and Nick Dennis is right you cannot answer complex questions in one lesson.  They are enjoyable and thought provoking to answer but can be hard to make!  For example I am trying to think of a question so I googled divergent questions.  I found this: I will look at the Vietnam War.  Was the Vietnam war worth fighting for?  I know there is a difference of opinion on this and people can come to different conclusions. some think that it was necessary and the spread of communism (Domino Theory) was a threat to us while others thought it was more of a local nationalist occurence and we should not have gotten involved.  

  • Hi Adam, thanks for the comment. A lesson is not enough, but if you need to do it within that time, you have to do it (as teachers, we all know that we have to be pragmatic with the constraints we have). I think one of the best ways to think about enquiry/inquiry questions is to use historical thinking concepts like the Big Six to help frame them and I’ll be talking a bit more about this in the live discussion later. I think the question you raised about Vietnam is an interesting one, as the answer also changes if you look at the VC perspective, the answer is much clearer! I think the question you raised is more to do with ethics and I would only use that question with students who knew a lot about the Cold War/the Vietnam War if I were to use it at all. I think using a change and continuity frame provides a richer environment to generate a question, for example.

  • Thanks that was helpful.  Here is a list of questions I cobbled together from different sources and I can see how they fit into some of these different categories. For example.  Why did we get involved in Vietnam and why did things go wrong would fall under cause and effect and how did the war change the United States.PDF

Reply Children
  • Yes, the historical thinking concepts are the ones I mentioned. You can find Michael Riley's article on designing enquiry/inquiry questions here:

    In the video, I mentioned that debate about questions to help refine them is important. This is a prime example of that!

  • Here are some questions stems that come from my another history teacher educator working within the Schools History Project tradition in England that may help teachers struggling with enquiry/inquiry questions. Thanks to Alex Ford for allowing me to share these:

    Helpful question stems for Enquiries


    • Why did X happen?
    • How far was X responsible for Y?
    • Was as X so successful?
    • Why did X do Y?
    • Why did X happen in Year Y?
    • If it had not been for X, would Y still have happened?

    Similarity and Difference

    • Who was affected by / benefitted from X?
    • Who were the Group X?
    • How similar/different were the experiences of X and Y?
    • Who took part in Event X?
    • Who really wanted X to happen?
    • Where was X happening?
    • Who was affected by X?

    Change and Continuity

    • How did X change during Period Y?
    • What was new about Development X?
    • How big a change was X?
    • What kind of change was X?
    • What kind of change did X bring to people’s lives?
    • Did X change anything?
    • Did X really change over period Y?

    Historical Evidence

    • Why is it so hard to find out about X?
    • How do we know about X?
    • What can we learn about X from Source Y?
    • What kinds of sources tell us most about X?
    • Why is it hard to decide if Period X was like Description Y?
    • What can Sources X reveal about Period Y?
    • In what different ways can we interrogate different types of sources from Period Y?
    • How useful / reliable are Sources X for finding an answer to Question Y?

    Historical Interpretations

    • Why are there still so many interpretations about X?
    • How did X become a hero/villain?
    • Why do views on X keep changing?
    • What can we learn about Period X by studying the interpretations they created?
    • Why can’t historians agree about X?
    • Why do interpretations of X keep changing?
    • How did we get the interpretation that…?
    • How does Historian X let us know what they think about Y?
    • Does Historian X or Historian Y give the most convincing view of…

    Historical Significance

    • Why do people still remember X?
    • What made X so special?
    • Why is X so historically significant?
    • Which group during Period X get judged as significant and why?
    • What is the historical significance of X?
    • What can X tell us about why Y still matters to people today
  • When it comes to significance I really enjoyed E H Carr's quote in What is History when he talks about why some events are given historical significance and others not.  When he talks about him comming to work as a professor not being historically significant but Ceaser crossing the Rubicon being significant.  It is his wry, dry sense of humor that is amusing!