What is the most resourceful discovery in science

Editorial by Joachim Rohlfes

history is commonly considered an "oral" subject. Compared to German or foreign language lessons, written elaborations usually only play a subordinate role. This applies in particular to longer presentations that deal with larger - temporal or thematic - contexts, and here above all with tasks that require individual statements (which are common practice in German essays, for example). While the practice of written forms of expression is part of the daily workload in the linguistic subjects, the common history lessons only seldom and without the necessary consistency force its adepts to express themselves in writing about historical facts with a certain degree of detail. He is wasting valuable learning potential.
Attempts have been made to remedy this deficit for some time. The impetus for this came from Anglo-Saxon research into teaching and learning and, last but not least, from German didactics. This reception was promoted by the narrative paradigm, which is highly regarded in German history didactics, which elevates storytelling to the core competence of learning history. With the monographs by Michele Barricelli ("Students tell history") and Josef Memminger ("Students write history"), the concept has now found its way into historical didactic literature.

The The term "creative writing" used by the three authors of this booklet needs to be explained in advance because it may arouse misconceptions here and there. The association that may arise with an absolutely original and unusually imaginative disposition is misleading. "Creativity" is expressed much more modestly and means, in the words of Memminger, nothing more and nothing less than an "active and productive reorganization of historically relevant facts into an individually and relatively freely designed text" (p. 209). It is already given when the authors of the text are able to articulate an independent view of the subject and not just repeat the factual information taken from the template.

How As the three lesson reports make clear, the young people who are certified as having creative writing do not have above-average intellectual or literary achievements. In many cases it is only approximations to the standards of a "freely designed text", in which one sometimes has to accept the correct intention instead of the actual level achieved. Younger students have to sacrifice a lot of their ability to empathize emotionally, and older students occasionally get a shock at the carefree explorations with which they make devastating judgments. Here, "creative writing" treads a fine line. It may, indeed should, have a personal touch and leave room for subjectivity. At the same time, it must not arbitrarily disregard the standards of historical efforts to gain knowledge and ignore historical relevance. Certainly one should allow young authors to abandon themselves to their imagination and their unconventional ideas in suitable places. But such excursions must always be measured against what is objectively justifiable. The writers should know the difference between fictionality and factuality and be able to give an account of when they exceed their limits and what that means for the expressiveness of their texts. Then, but only then, can you embark on the adventure of fictional forms of representation. The teachers have a great responsibility.

Contents of the issue

ABSTRACTS (p. 202)

EDITORIAL (p. 203)

CONTRIBUTIONS

Josef Memminger
Training in historical thinking or just fictional gimmicks?
About creative forms of writing in history lessons (p. 204)

Christine Eckl
"His death is a redemption" or "We are proud of you!"
Qualitative insights into the perspective of writing obituaries at the secondary school level (p. 222)

Christoph Schröder
"Thank you for this interview!"
Secondary school students organize a conversation with Deng Xiaoping (p. 230)

INFORMATION NEW MEDIA
Gregor Horstkemper / Alessandra Sorbello Staub
Writing Education and New Media (p. 238)

LITERATURE REPORT
Heinz Schilling
Confessionalization, Part II (p. 240)

NEWS (p. 259)

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Abstracts

Josef Memminger
Training in historical thinking or just fictional gimmicks?
About creative forms of writing in history lessons
GWU 60, 2009, no. 4, pp. 204-221
Creative forms of writing should not only be used as a playful change in history lessons. They can certainly help promote historical thinking. The article outlines the current state of the story of writing in the subject of history and indicates (not yet exhausted) potential. In the "Outlines of a Theory for Creative Writing in History Classes", basic principles and target dimensions are clarified and the various possibilities are categorized (with an example list). Finally, a teaching example is presented and interpreted.

Christine Eckl
"His death is a redemption" or "We are proud of you!"
Qualitative insights into perspective writing of obituaries at the secondary school level
GWU 60, 2009, no. 4, pp. 222-229

In this contribution, the students' solutions to a creative writing task in two middle school classes at the end of the sequence "Founding of the Empire and the Bismarckian Age" are checked qualitatively. The results speak in favor of the moderate use of creative writing as a time-consuming method in history lessons: In the study case, it was above all the experience with perspectives and the high imaginative incentives that contributed to broadening the students' understanding of historical situations and contexts.

Christoph Schröder
"Thank you for this interview!"
Secondary school students organize a conversation with Deng Xiaoping
GWU 60, 2009, no. 4, pp. 230-237

Creative writing is a method that has so far rarely been used in GSE lessons at Bavarian secondary schools to encourage schoolchildren to actively reorganize historical knowledge. The article describes the attempt to initiate historical learning on the basis of a fictitious interview with Deng Xiaoping. A television program about the Chinese statesman provides the person- and content-specific factual information in order to use a questionnaire to put the interview into a linguistic form and to lead the students to joint writing products.

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