The Historical Thinking Project

July 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm Leave a comment

Message from what was “Benchmarks”:
“After much consultation and feedback, we have re-branded the Benchmarks of Historical Thinking Project. It will now be called, The Historical Thinking Project. Take a look at the new website, still available through the old URL, but now also through
We are still the same group of educators, working toward the same goal of increasing historical thinking in classrooms, other educational settings, and educational resources. The new, streamlined name of the project emphasizes our core goals, without introducing what we came to realize was a potentially misleading term. (Our former name was being shortened to “Benchmarks,” which on its own, was not a good descriptor of the work we do.  Even the six historical thinking concepts in the Project framework were commonly referred to as “benchmarks,” which made little sense.)
Our new logo includes the photo of an astrolabe, believed to have been used by Samuel de Champlain as he explored New France in the early 17th century. According to some accounts, Champlain lost the astrolabe in 1613 and it was found 264 years later by a 14-year-old boy. The boy, in turn, handed it over to the captain of a steamboat on a nearby lake, who offered the boy ten dollars for the find. The astrolabe changed hands a number of times after that, eventually ending up in the collections of the New York Historical Society in 1942. The astrolabe was returned to Canada in 1989 after being acquired by the Canadian Museum of Civilization (in Ottawa).
This commonly held account has been called into question in recent years, and there is now debate over whether this astrolabe ever belonged to Champlain. We believe this is an excellent image for The Historical Thinking Project, as it represents a means of probing the unfamiliar and the unknown that is central to the work of historians. The fact that this astrolabe has a contested history also captures one of the key thrusts of our work: that all historical accounts are open to challenge and revision on the basis of new evidence and new ideas.
We hope that you are pleased with the new project name, and with the slogan, “promoting critical historical literacy for the 21st century,” which goes with it.
Peter Seixas, Project Director
Jill Colyer, Project Coordinator”

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Big Thinking Lecture at Congress 2011 – David Adams Richards: Threatened Identity: What do We Lose When We Lose the Sense of Place? Warrior Nation vs. Peaceable Kingdom: Ian McKay on Understandings of History in Canada

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