Document Type


Publication Date

November 2015


STATE AND NATIONAL educational initiatives have increasedexpectations for students’ historical thinking and civic involvement. 1Guidance for relevant, purposeful classroom experiences with ageappropriate, rigorous content has never been clearer, 2 yet teachersstill feel unprepared.3 Towards these ends, we direct attention to theantecedent of discovery: confusion. Confusion sparks the motivationto explore and solve mysteries. Manageable, engaging mysteriesprovide students the space and incentive to explore for answers theyknow are discoverable. Teachers can position students to identifythe enigma as they scrutinize the documents; educators shouldrecognize, and ease, students’ emergent frustration with clues. UsingLev Vygotsky’s zone o f proximal development as a guide,4 educatorsshould provide students suitable levels of challenge and support.