We can’t possibly allow this! by @Dai_James1942

  1. Differences associated with a document, where a correct analysis of the evidential merits will enable the users to do better than guesswork. Associated with ‘a sullen mob’ and ‘dignified and well-organised’ the Versions each contained an illustration. Version 1 included the smudgy black and white photograph[16] showing a distant straggling line of protesters, faced by foot-soldiers with rifles, whereas Version 2 contains a stirring and highly imaginative drawing showing a ‘dignified and well organised’ protest watched over by cavalry and foot soldiers. Here they are:

This provides many opportunities to apply the standard evidence questions: who is telling me? Does he know what he’s talking about? Has he any reason to lie? One is a drawing and one is a photo. Each is consistent with the bias, but neither tells us about the number of casualties. I expect the users to say something like ‘Version 2 says the crowd was dignified and organised, but that is the idea the author is obviously trying to portray. Version 1 says ‘a sullen mob’ and the photograph is certainly closer to that than ‘dignified and well organised. Each picture corroborates the text in which it appears, but that does not add a great deal to our knowledge of the truth’. Hammond’s interesting work on the ante bellum south could be matched in my method by incorporating the following two sentences in a dialogue:

  • Version 1 – The life of slaves was varied: although some were ill-treated, many were housed fed and cared in circumstances which many Eastern Europeans at the same date would have envied, as Document 1 shows.
  • Version 2 – The life of slaves was terrible: they were starved and beaten and made to live in miserable overcrowded huts, as Document 1 shows.

Version I’s ‘Document 1’ would be appropriate material from ‘Time on the Cross’, and Version 2’s a particularly gruesome piece of Douglass. The discussions which Hammond generated would take place around the room in each pair. Their jottings on the side of the page would allow the prowling teacher an insight into their thoughts, which he would weave into his summing up at the end of the lesson. I should have taught the Ante-bellum south AND done interpretations, without fuss, at the same time.

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