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Teaching History to Children: Connected Thinking for the C21st

Giaconda's Blog


How do we teach our children history?

As an avid reader of historical non-fiction and enthusiast of all things medieval, I was determined to introduce my children to history up-close and personal from as early an age as possible. I didn’t want them to learn history in little clunks of dis-connected ‘projects’ at primary school because I felt that they needed to see history as a continuum. I wanted them to live and breathe their history and to care about the lives of other humans who lived long ago but shared the same basic fears and enthusiasms and dreams for their future as we do.

Now, there is nothing wrong with teaching history in ‘project’ format at Primary level. You have to start somewhere and it is important to introduce such a complex and difficult subject in a digestible format. What I object to, is the feeling that like many…

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5 thoughts on “Teaching History to Children: Connected Thinking for the C21st

  1. Jasmine on said:

    There is an issue as to when children are able to understand the concept of historical time – this tends to be later than many people imagine. This is why a lot of history is taught as patch projects, rather than chronological sequences.


  2. giaconda on said:

    But the patch approach leads directly to them not being able to understand chronology – if you have wall charts that show a timeline they will learn that the Anglo-Saxons came after the Romans etc… This just isn’t covered in many schools. Cause and effect are crucial to understanding human development and history and can be introduced at the earliest ages. History in dis-connected ‘bubbles’ leads to children leaving senior school with no idea about even which century events occurred in.


    • One nine year-old compiled a classroom wall frieze (sic) of every English/ British monarch since Egbert III in 1978-9.


      • Jasmine on said:

        There are always exceptions. However, if you look at the work of Piaget, you will see that there is a process in cognitive development before which, children cannot understand the concept of historical time. You may be able to ‘drill’ them by providing wall charts etc, but it is unlikely they will understand.


  3. halfwit36 on said:

    A lot of adults have the same problem. They have a vague idea that the Korean war and the American Revolution took place in about the same period (post-gunpowder) and the Wars of the Roses and the Pelopenesian War in an only slightly earlier one (pre-gunpowder, mostly). In other words, Before I Was Born, and therefore of no interest.
    I think the thing is to get them interested in one period, or even one person, first, and gradually expand it to include the overall picture. Of course, we all have our special interests. I know I do.


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