Looking at buildings as a source for developing historical enquiries


By Gordon Guest, published 30th April 2001

Please note: this article was written before the the 2014 National Curriculum. The section on using computers in particular is now outdated. 

Buildings offer a fascinating insight into history. We live, work and shop in buildings of various descriptions. Some of these buildings are very new, others are very old. Frequently new shop frontages disguise very old buildings and it is only by looking up that we can identify the older parts of the building visible on the second floor. So a major incentive for encouraging children to look more closely at buildings is that the evidence is visible, relevant and first hand allowing children to make comparisons with themselves in the present and people in the past. Looking at buildings supports a study of chronology and a sense of place and time. The purpose of this article is to explore some of the ways in which ‘Looking at buildings’ can be used to develop historical enquiry, contribute to a sense of chronology and place and be seen as relevant to the real world.

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