When examining "evidence and interpretation" we look at where our sources of evidence come from. Primary Sources and Secondary Sources.
Primary Sources are documents or objects created at the time we are examining. Examples include: photographs, journals, letters, drawings, oral and written accounts or sources from the time period. These sources offer an inside view of a particular event.
Secondary Sources are documents written after an event has happened providing a secondhand account of what happened. They could include an opinion or analysis of an event and often bring in different perspectives. Primary sources are used to construct secondary sources. Example: textbooks
History is not simply a description of “what happened.” All we learn about the past comes from clues that have been left behind and discovered, be they artifacts (e.g., tools, photographs, buildings, drawings), documents (e.g., wills, catalogues, posters) or written and oral descriptions. This evidence needs to be critically examined by asking the question, Is the evidence adequate to support the conclusions reached? Understanding the sources and limitations of historical evidence is necessary if students are to appreciate the tentative nature of historical knowledge.
Look at 4 photographs of Canadian Teens in the 21st century. Is there evidence in the photos to support the idea/notion: “Canadian teens lead wholesome, active lives.”?
Assess the quality of the evidence
Is it reliable or trustworthy? (and how do we know?)
Is it relevant? (does it answer the question we’re asking)
Is the interpretation reasonable? (do the conclusions go beyond the evidence?)
Big questions to ask:
- Can we trust the source of information?
-Are the artefacts authentic?
-Are the authors qualified to report or create an account on a topic?
-Do the sources provide evidence to help answer the questions we hope to answer?
-Does the evidence support the interpretation offered?