Linking the purpose of study and aims of history to Global Learning

Purpose of studying history:

The National Curriculum for history states that

‘A high-quality history education will help pupils gain a coherent knowledge and understanding of Britain's past and that of the wider world.... teaching should equip pupils to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments and develop perspective and judgement.....'

This ties in closely with Global Development aims to ‘think critically about....' And to, ‘consider the relative merits of different approaches to....' as well as to ‘think critically about...'

The methods of studying history and global development therefore have many approaches in common - develop those skills in one subject and get better at them in another.



The Aims of studying history include:

  • Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world; the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies;
  • Understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses
  • Understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed
  • Gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short-term and long-term timescales.

All of these tie in with the key drivers of Global Learning:

  • Develop a better understanding of their own role in a globally-interdependent world
  • become more familiar with the concepts of interdependence, development, globalisation;
  • think critically about global issues
  • explore alternative models of development
  • and consider the relative merits of different approaches to reducing global poverty and draw conclusions about the causes of global poverty and how it can be addressed.


How better to equip pupils to understand the issues of global development and interdependence than by exploring these issues in real contexts in a historical context, where arguments can be rehearsed, ideas developed, and orthodoxies challenged in a non-threatening way. We all know pupils understand history better when they can see the relevance of what they are studying. By linking bygone periods and problems - why was slavery OK in the C18th but not in the C19th, for example - to similar issues today - slavery in Ghana's cocoa farms, for example, we are making both Global Learning and History more relevant to our pupils.

Global Learning is clearly about continuity and change, cause and consequence, significance, drawing contrasts and analysing trends. All these key historical skills and concepts are just as essential for understanding the world today as they are for understanding the world of the past. And don't forget the idea of asking questions, so central to good history. If you critically examine life, actions and motives in the past it is quite likely that you will do the same about the present day. How often do your pupils say things like, ‘It's just not fair!' when studying a topic, isn't it just as important that they realise that the same can be said about some aspects of life today?

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