Significance and interpretation in primary history

Primary History article

By Glenn Carter, published 25th March 2022

Significance and interpretation: what are these concepts and why are they important in primary history?

The terms ‘significance’ and ‘interpretation’ often go hand in hand with one another, but what do each of them mean and why is it that they fit together? Understanding both terms separately and how historians use interpretation to identify what is significant in history, and why historians cast their interpretations as to what was significant.

During English and maths lessons, we constantly reinforce the meanings of various words and vocabulary so that children understand concepts and can place them into practice. However, is this always the case with historical vocabulary? More to the point, do the children understand the disciplinary vocabulary that helps underpin the main objectives of the National Curriculum? Bullet point 4 in the ‘Aims’ section of the National Curriculum specifically highlights concepts such as ‘similarity, difference and significance’, as does bullet point 5 which highlights ‘contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past’. (National Curriculum, 2014)...

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