An Inquiry of Architectural History Education through Exploring ‘Historical Thinking’

Document Type : Research Paper


University of Tehran


This paper aims to have an inquiry about why and how to teach architectural history and to suggest a practical framework in this regard. The research method is based on logical argumentation. The results have been investigated in some architectural cases. Since the logical argumentation methods vary from formal/mathematical argumentations to cultural/discursive argumentations, this research can be positioned in between as a mathematical/ cultural argumentation.
The research literature review proposes two different areas of subject, ‘philosophy of history’ and ‘historical narrations’. Studying the ‘philosophy of history’ literature, the first studies go back to Kant’s ‘the idea of universal history from a cosmopolitan point of view’ and Hegel’s ‘lectures on the philosophy of world history’. New theories are aroused by Popper’ ideas about positivism causality in historical events. On the other hand, reviewing the ‘historical narrations’ literature, Danto proposes the idea of history as constructed of narrative sentences. Gallie emphasizes on the literal metaphors for historical narratives and Collingwood believes in the role of imagination and comprehension in historical narratives.
Regarding history education, this paper believes that emphasis on transferring insight is more important than the transference of information. Analyzing the negative effects of the informational approach in this regard, the paper proposes the importance of ‘historical thinking’. In this regard, titles such as ‘the meaning of historical thinking’ and ‘achievement of historical thinking’ are described. With these considerations, different types of historical analysis are categorized according to ‘evolutional process’ and ‘the substance of repeating experiences’. So the appropriate quality of teaching architectural history can be attained through ‘arousing the power of discovering, interpretation and analysis of the relationships of historical events’, ‘abstraction and simplification of historical events’ and ‘extraction of historical rules and traditions’. ‘Arousing the power of discovering, interpretation and analysis of the relationships of historical events’ means emphasizes on the relations between the events. Whatever the power of discovering connections between events strengthens, historical literacy may improve. ‘Abstraction and simplification of historical events’ means standing back and observing the totality of events, main relations and omitting unnecessary issues. ‘Extraction of historical rules and traditions’ means having a belief in repeating rules about historical experiences and events. Moving toward extracting such rules may lead to comprehension of ‘durability ‘in history. Since the progress, evolution and change in history do not make paradox with repeating principles and patterns in history, it can be said that ‘durability and ‘dynamism’ have a simultaneous attendance in the history concept. At the same time, discovering such rules provides the power of predicting future events. This may lead to a timeless knowledge of history.
In such a process, the multiplicity of historical information can be simplified as convergent rules and comprehensive insight. Learning history will be more easy and deciding about contemporary issues and forecasting the effects of decisions would be possible. These characteristics can lead to what can be called ‘live history’. This method of teaching may convert the class space from a passive state to an active and interactive state.


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