AOK History:The Window to Different Perspectives Eduardo, Angela, Tyler, and Ahmed

AOK History Progress Journal: 3/28/17- 4/2/17


Essential Question:

What distinguishes a better historical account from a worse one?

One of the major problems we faced regarding this question is that a “better” historical account is relative to the historian. If a person wants an accurate account of how people felt at a particular time, then bias is very valuable. Meanwhile, the listing of facts and statistics make a historical account better for a person who wants to examine a source for research and writing purposes.

The integration of bias actually helps a historian understand situations better, while a more numerical, fact-based account (less of a story) seems less valuable. While it provides important stats to memorize, it does not provide an accurate glimpse into the situation. Primary sources are not more inherently valuable than secondary knowledge.

We’re still discussing the best means to portray the circumstances to most optimally prove the point that bias is what makes historical accounts valuable, as long as it’s not the only source consulted for information. Another problem is being objective, as interpretation of a historical account is actually very subjective, as it ties back to language and its inherent ambiguity.

We’re planning on analyzing 9/11 accounts (factual vs emotional) for this historical value, studying two different primary texts. However, we’re still deciding the best way to integrate the class and do an activity as opposed to simply presenting our findings. We have all agreed that distinguishing a better historical account from a worse one involves close inspection of values and limitations.

3/28/17 -End of class

We made a lot of progress today, developing our main point (to show that value of a historical account depends on purpose) while successfully analyzing the distinguishing between two different sources regarding the 9/11 attacks. Furthermore, I utilized one of the books Mr. Morrison provided in order to tie in one of the WOKs of study (reasoning) and how it pertains to the historical sources we saw. My goal is to prove that just because something is not mentioned in a source doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist; thus we can only focus on what sources do show when it comes to their value. I’ve learned from last time that we need to integrate our audience well, so we will get their input to support our conclusion.


To what extent are good historians good storytellers?

-Connections to an extract from Politics and the English Language, by George Orwell.

In his writing, Orwell discusses that historians often use demand a “lifeless, imitative style.” For instance, in describing gory events, words such as “bestial atrocities” and bloodstained tyranny” often come across as references to a dummy, devoid of life. This is why when historians report events as they actually happened, there’s not much empathy elicited, since readers cannot truly visualize the circumstances. Thus, I learned the importance of bias and of using vivid imagery when recounting historical events. Orwell also emphasizes that good historians will employ euphemisms (playing down harshness) and beg questions of the readers to keep them engaged. I learned that language plays a large role in shaping thought, and historians must be good story tellers in order to successfully convey historical perspectives and encapsulate feelings.


The main point of our presentation is to show that one historical source being better than another is all about the goal of the individual, so it varies by circumstances. For instance, to write a research paper which outlines the facts, our first source regarding 9/11 is most useful. However, if the goal is to capture the emotion and almost live through the situation, it’s more beneficial to use a source that employs more emotive-language and is based strongly on feelings more than facts and numbers. Through these 9/11 primary sources, we hope to display that historical source’s value really depends on what an individual wants to get out of it.

My main goal in this presentation is to get the class engaged by asking them questions, and utilizing their data to prove our point, which is that fact doesn’t mean a source is better.

K.Q.: What makes a historical source better than another one?

A historical source is more valuable based on what a historian/individual wants to get out of it. For instance, if I need facts to create a history essay and inform people about events as they occurred, then a more linear, factual-based source is more useful. In order to capture the feelings and empathize, a more emotion-driven eyewitness account is more substantial.

A knower/individual determines if a historical source is better than another one based on his purposes, because different sources all focus on separate aspects and angles of knowledge

4/2/17 -Reflection

In retrospect, delving into the areas of knowledge has proven to be very useful, as we’re able to actively integrate our ways of knowing to gain insight into human nature and learns how to analyze and extract value from historical sources. From our 9/11 accounts, we concluded that value depends on the end-goal of a historian; if the purpose is to pull a few stats and facts for research purposes, then a more factual and linear progression works best. However, if a historian wants to truly understand what the surroundings were like and how people received the event, a more emotional account from a survivor could be more suitable. Ultimately, I learned that in AOK history, it’s important to evaluate multiple sources, because without getting a variety of perspectives, we only learn one side of the story. When examined together, the values that each source highlights combine to give true knowledge; hence, we can learn from a significant event of the past so we’re better prepared for the future.

I finally learned the invaluable presentation skill of involving the audience (classmates) to keep them engaged in the material. I’m also becoming more proficient at making the point with less material, stating things in a more concise manner. I’m eager to continue working with AOKs to understand the nature of the knowledge in the various disciplines.

4/3/17 -Change in format, application of K.Q. to other AOKs

Mr. Morrison introduced us to the format for the TOK Presentation, and we adjusted our AOK1 presentation to match the style. In order to accomplish this, we introduced the RLS (9/11 attack) and showed how this lead us to questioning the validity of historical account, which prompted the question of what makes a historical account better than another one? Finally, through analysis and connection, we concluded that the presence or lack of emotional bias (as it tends to be less objective but much more descriptive) is a large factor in determine the value of a source to historians. Thus, we expanded on this idea, and applied the concept of emotional bias altering judgement to other AOKs.

Hence, we were able to use other RLSs to support our point that emotional bias leads to differences in judgment for all knowers.

Project Planning Document


Twin Towers after 9/11 plane attacks

Topics of Discussion with the class:

-Categorize the sources based on the paragraph samples

-What did you learn from this

-Which one is a better historical account

Three Essential Questions explored

To what extent are good historians good storytellers?

What distinguishes a better historical account from a worse one?

How can historical accounts be assessed?

Extension Proposal

Essential Question: What does history as an AOK teach us about the faults in human nature?

This question is very important because it explores history's role in providing us with the tendencies of humans so we gain knowledge about the way people act. In order to explore this question, I believe it would be appropriate to look at documents such as the Communist Manifesto and then study what occurred in Soviet Russia. For knowers less interested in politics, reading the book Animal Farm will be very useful. It's an allegory to communism in Russia, and it teaches knowers about the mistakes of the past, truly showing why history as an AOK (and the use of hindsight) is indispensable.

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