Studying the Maya


By Alf Wilkinson, published 27th October 2016

A case study in making history accessible to all pupils

Most pupils like history, but some struggle with aspects of reading and writing – how can we make history more accessible? This article explores some ways I have found useful in engaging pupils of all abilities. It will focus on activities that might be used in studying the Non-European Society unit, the Maya, but I firmly believe the activities can easily be adapted to any other topic.

Of course the most important thing to do first is to get the enquiry question – the focus of the activity – right. It needs to intrigue, excite, interest and challenge all at the same time.  ‘What happened to the Maya around AD 900’ might be an acceptable question, but it doesn’t really excite in the way, say, ‘Manmade or Natural Disaster – which best explains the disappearance of the Maya around AD 900?’ Already you are suggesting conflicting opinions and reasons, and setting up an enquiry that demands a conclusion between conflicting ideas. History is a contested  subject where views differ depending on which evidence you find and/or choose to use...

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