Understanding historical interpretations means asking students to step back and appreciate the processes of the discipline of History itself. In many cases, this is a skill we do not expect of students until they are much older as the contextual knowledge required is so great. It is also important to note that historical interpretations here refer to conscious reflections on the past, deliberate attempts to make sense of past events, and should not be confused with sources or personal views.
1. Historical interpretations are everywhere. Every piece of historical writing is an interpretation of some sort. The past is not fixed but CONSTRUCTED through interpretations.
2. It is possible to draw INFERENCES from interpretations of the past, just like with historical sources. INFERENCES will reveal the MESSAGE of a particular interpretation.
3. The APPROACH of an author must always be considered. This means considering their VIEWPOINT, PURPOSE, AUDIENCE and EVIDENCE chosen to build their interpretation.
4. Historical interpretations must be understood on their own terms. This means thinking about the CONTEXT in which they were created and what conditions and views existed at the time.