Vermeulen’s piece is based on two main points – the interplay between skills and knowledge and the rejection of a linear form of progression.
According to Vermeulen, getting better at history is getting better at judgement. Historial judgement is made in the “interplay” between propositional and procedural historical knowledge. Propositional knowledge is the “know that” of history, of the narrative of history “underpinned” by understanding of concepts of historical study. Procedural knowledge is the “know how” of history, which Vermeulen casually lists as “evidence” and “communication skills”.
It is when talking about the “concepts” of history that Vermeulen most clearly rejects linear models of progression. Vermeulen claims that progress here means increasingly complex understanding (reflecting Lee and Shemilt’s “stronger misconceptions”) of historical concepts and claims that progress is made in a spider’s web pattern, presumeably with new information, being secured, forming a node in the increasingly sophisticated pattern of a specific historical concept. Later in the article Vermeulen makes clear a rejection of the discrete skill domains of linear progression models for assessing individual pupils.
Vermeulen relates how research which used deductive thinking methods when assessing the abiility of children to understand the “skills” of history are pessimistic about Children’s abilities, whereas those who used inductive methods of teaching (such as discussion) found that children could be helped to make complex and sophisticaed use of evidence.
Inductive teaching methods for “skills” might link with Vermeulen’s ideas for teaching understanding of historical concepts or “know that”. Vermeulen stresses the need for revisiting similar concepts. A strong link between inductive teaching of skills and re-visiting historical concepts might be be a process of inductive repetative personal exploration rather than a re-visit to secure the level a pupil reached last time. A further link might be found in her emphasis on regularities and similarities of history, through which pupils understanding of concepts acquire “increasing complexity” and the need for “deliberate” creation of patterns of similarity.
Having rejected linear models she says that they can nevertheless be useful in planning, but doesn’t really explain how. In respect of planning she offers two broad strategies – firstly an emphasis on “meta-understading” -“an understanding of how history works” borrowing from Bourdillon. This meta understanding is to be attained by “deconstruction” of narratives and sources to show how history works.