- Secondary Homepage
- Articles, Journals & Publications
- CPD, Guides & Support
- CPD Units & Guides
- Briefing Packs
- HA Staffroom
- History Transition
- Initial Teacher Trainers
- Careers in History
- HA Podcast Series
- HA Competitions
- Links, Reviews & Visits
- Event Resources
The UK's leading professional journal for secondary history teachers, up to and including sixth form colleges.
Make a donation
- Key Stage 1: by Dr Penelope Harnett
- Key Stage 2: by Helena Gillespie
- Key Stage 3: by Dr Michael Riley
- Key Stage 4: by Richard Harris
- 4.1 Introduction: Teaching Emotive and Controversial History at Key Stage 4
- 4.2. Examples of Practice: What are the chances of a lasting peace in the Middle East between Israel and the surrounding Arab states?
- 4.3 Resource: Palestinian news story
- 4.4 Resource: Israeli News Story
- Key Stage 5: by Alison Webb
4.1 Introduction: Teaching Emotive and Controversial History at Key Stage 4
This paper summarises the main points from the full report of the TEACH project published by the Historical Association, focusing on the issues at Key Stage 4. This paper points out some of the key constraints firstly, before looking at principles and practice that address these problems.
The teaching of emotive and controversial history at KS4 is limited by:
Within all the specifications there are opportunities to tackle issues that are emotive and/or controversial. Some topics are inherently sensitive, e.g. the Holocaust and Arab-Israeli conflict; others can be explored from an emotive angle, such as C19th electoral reform or the clash between Whites and Native Americans, if an emphasis is placed upon issues of social justice.
The Pilot GCSE from OCR offers a range of potentially interesting controversial topics. The local history option requires pupils to make links between local history and its relevance to now. The international unit requires students to consider how an event, issue or development divided and affected people and examine different judgments about historical significance and interpretations. Other options like ‘Whose history?' and the migrant experience can clearly deal with emotive issues.
Topics that are emotive and controversial are:
Teaching that is geared towards the emotive and controversial
The following aspects seem to underpin examples of good practice:
When planning to teach emotive and controversial topics the following planning guidelines have been suggested that teachers need to start with the factual context, identify the key controversial issues, explore the alternative perspectives within the context and examine the big questions that emerge.
The points above also provide a strong rationale for tackling such difficult topics. Such topics are engaging, show that what happened in the past matters today, broadens pupils' understanding of the human experience and attitudes towards others, and promotes an understanding of the process of history.