Getting to grips with concepts in primary history

Primary History article

By Tim Lomas, published 10th July 2019

Perhaps one of the most perplexing aspects of teaching history is the fostering of conceptual understanding. History subject leaders often find this a challenging issue. Even if they have a decent grasp themselves, it can be difficult for others in the school who have to teach the subject.

Over recent years, the pages of this journal have often addressed the teaching of different concepts but that might still leave unanswered questions. This article focuses on a number of questions related to what is often known as ‘second-order’ concepts.

1. What are some of the key ‘second-order concepts’?
2. What key ideas should we be getting over to the pupils which need frequent reinforcement?
3. How can they be taught in a meaningful way to pupils, reflecting their ages and abilities?
4. Are there some good teaching examples that illustrate some of the points made?

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