Do Newton history teachers use “biased” sources?
In Newton high school history classes, students read a wide range of primary and secondary sources representing multiple perspectives. All primary and secondary sources are written from a particular perspective, which by definition is bias. These historical documents serve to illustrate the experience of an individual or collective group or to demonstrate a way of thinking that influenced a historical time period or world event. The use of primary and secondary sources is always accompanied by rich and balanced classroom discussion to promote critical thinking regarding each source and perspective; teachers provide students with the historical context of the documents and ask the students to recognize the point of view, purpose, bias, and impact of the sources. Our faculty and administrators work to ensure that students learn to separate fact from opinion, and to discern between perspectives. Through thoughtful classroom experiences based on varied source material, inquiry and facilitated discussions, our aim is for students to challenge their own thinking and that of their peers and to develop opinions through the study and the testing of ideas. In exposing students to a wide variety of perspectives and ideas, we aspire to teach students not what to think but how to think.