Inspiration from Teaching History 109 ‘Examining History’

We are starting a series of blogposts where a colleague reflects on a previous edition of Teaching History, and shares some thoughts about an article within it, with reference to where we are today. Thanks to Secondary Committee member Martyn Bajkowski (@MrBajkowski) for going first. 

At this time of the year, pandemic or not, I find myself reviewing my schemes of work.  One benefit of the current situation is that it has given me an opportunity to delve into the Teaching History archives to ‘mine’ them for thoughts and ideas to enhance our curriculum.

In doing so I came across Kate Hammond’s article “Getting Year 10 to understand the value of precise factual knowledge” from TH 109 December 2002 ‘Examining History’ edition.

What struck me was how relevant this article is to today’s current curricular thinking.  Hammond talks about the importance of students having knowledge at KS3.  What resonated most, however, was her writing about the importance of students’ understanding of how and why the knowledge was important. In her work she encourages  students to think about where a fact sits in relation to other facts, and also how it links into other events. She argues that students will retain knowledge by gaining this understanding of where and how, .

Hammond also argues for the importance of the teacher understanding the content. The argument that good history teaching is not about focusing on the presentation of a range of activities, but on having, and communicating effectively, historical knowledge, strikes a very familiar note in 2020.

In the past few weeks we have seen some worldwide, national and local events which have led lots of us to revisit our schemes of work, as we understand that quality historical education can impact the world in a really positive way.  If you are revisting your schemes of work, I would urge you to consider Hammond’s work and ask yourself three questions:

  1. What facts do my students need to know?
  2. How do these facts sit in my curriculum – how to they support and are supported by the other topics that we have chosen to do?
  3. Do I (and my team) have enough subject knowledge of these periods in order to be able to explain, discuss and tackle the nuances and key historiography debates within these time periods?


If you would like to return to a previous edition of Teaching History, reflect upon its lessons for history teachers in 2020 and write a blogpost, please do get in touch. Meanwhile, follow the HA @histassoc and on Facebook. 



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