Teaching history is not as simple as it may seem. The goal is to get students to use metacognitive skills; therefore, the students do not just think about what they are doing but also the extent to which they understand it. They are to know the material, but also understand it. Knowing the surface facts can be beneficial for certain types of tests, but it is more important for students to understand the concepts. In this case, concepts are not dates and names, but are rules and students are to understand and identify the instances of the rule. Concepts can be historical, like colony or market, political, like government or army, and economic, like money or banking. The goal of the teacher is not only to have students be able to identify these concepts by definition, but to also understand them well enough to be able to put them into practice and know why they are doing so.
I think it is important for teachers to make sure they are not doing surface teaching. Students may be able to recall facts and numbers, but they will quickly forget them once the test is over. However, if a teacher teaches at a deeper level and allows students to use their metacognitive skills, the students will gain learning skills that they can take with them forever and into other disciplines. The main point of learning history is to make sense of the past, and students are not able to do this if they are only being taught names and dates. Giving students the tools they need to be able to think deeply and make sense of the past should be the number one goal of a teacher. The teacher does not need to teach the students how to be expert historians, but should give them an idea on how to think about the past. In order to think about the past, students need to learn empathy. In this instance, empathy is not used in the traditional sense, but is used to show how what people did in the past makes sense in terms of their ideas about the world. It is seeing the world how people in the past did. If they did not have machinery and utilized manpowered farm tools, then the students would have to distance themselves from the idea of having machinery and view the world in a way that included a bit more manual labor.
Overall, I think it is very important to teach students how to think about the past. Only so much will get done if students know dates and names, but if they know how to think and understand the past, they will have skills they can take with them into other aspects of their lives. Metacognition is a key aspect of life and should be used in the history classroom so students understand history better.