Intersecting history in school – the ‘slot-in’!

Ruth Lingard and Helen Snelson have been leading York area teachers and University of York PGCE trainees to deepen their knowledge of stories from the past that are too often absent from the history classroom. Here they offer the ‘slot-ins’ made so far as a way to help history teachers make the history curriclum more representative of the many, many people who lived in the past. 

A few years ago we finally got so exasperated with the lack of women’s and other histories in the school curriculum that we were stirred into action. We were beyond annoyed that some people still seemed to think the job was done if there was a lesson in Year 7 on ‘Medieval Women’ – implying that half the population were only to be bothered with in isolation in one period before we get back to the main story! We were downright uncomfortable that the voices of people in the past with disability, the less powerful, minority groups, people who did not ‘fit’ the mainstream, were nowhere in our classrooms.

At the same time, we don’t need telling how jam-packed the history curriculum already is. So, we came up with the idea of the ‘slot-in’. That is, rather than ignoring or ‘bolting-on’ stories that we ought to tell, we find ways to bring in stories that can enable us to slot the knowledge into our curriculum. These slot-in stories allow intersecting history. For example, the slot-in on Tudor Fools is a story of learning disability and the Tudor Court, while the slot-in on Benjamin Lay is a story of a man who was a dwarf  and who campaigned for the abolition of slavery, and the Cycling to Suffrage slot-in intersects technological history with the development of women’s social and political freedoms.

Slot-ins are two page narratives that can be used in a variety of ways. Each comes with a short teacher note to help you to think about how you could use them with students. Now that history teachers are once again focusing on the coherence and connectedness of their curriculum, these slot-ins also offer the chance to do some of the bridging work we need between studies in more depth. (For an excellent Teaching History article on approaches to that problem, please see Natalie Kesterton’s article.) That is, they can offer a different slant on a topic, another perspective from a different place, contextualise future learning and develop sense of period.

You can find our developing collection of slot-ins here: There are now over 20 available, with a brief description for each one of its topic and curriculum link. They are downloadable from here in Word format so you can take and make them your own.

Some of these slot-ins we have developed as part of work to increase resources for the teaching of the history of disability. You can read our Teaching History article about that here. Others have been developed by University of York PGCE trainees over the past few years as part of their work to understand the need to teach a more representative past. We would love help to develop more slot-ins and to adapt the model so it is helpful to as many teachers as possible. Do contact us via Twitter @Yorkclio and @Snelsonh if you can help.


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