Teaching pupils to analyse cartoons


By Joseph O'Neill, published 9th May 1998

In this practical account of a key aspect of history departmental policy, Joseph O'Neill presents a rationale for the systematic teaching of analytical techniques. Alert to the dangers of mechanistic and formulaic examination responses, the author draws a distinction between the limiting rigidity of the learned response and the systematic teaching of techniques that, with practice, pupils can learn to apply with independence, flexibility and judgement. He also outlines his department's rationale on the relationship between analytical skill and contextual knowledge, arguing that the latter can help pupils to evaluate sources with greater period sensitivity and precision. The article celebrates the need for structure and for a clear, underpinning pedagogic rationale when planning for progression across the Key Stage. As a result of internalising the ‘guiding framework', even less able pupils soon develop a facility for interrogating cartoons in ways that are both structured, coherent and historically grounded.

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