Why Gerry likes history now: the power of the word processor


By Ben Walsh, published 11th November 1998

Ben Walsh argues that many teachers of history completely miss the point of the word processor. Criticising those who use it merely for 'typing up' he reminds us that the purpose of the word processor, as with any other resource, is to teach good history. He analyses the types of difficulty that the majority of students experience and he shows how thoughtful use of the word processor enables students to triumph over such difficulties. His student, ‘Gerry', starts to enjoy history precisely because he now knows how to tackle some of the more challenging aspects of the subject. His focus here, is as much upon extended reading as upon extended writing. Eventually, Gerry attains striking and unexpected success in the GCSE examination. Thus Ben Walsh argues that history teachers should not use IT merely to make pupils better at using IT! The purpose and the measure of quality for using computers in history lessons lies away from the computer. The aim must always be more rigorous and more enjoyable history. The word processor allows us to bring this to more students without watering down the more sophisticated demands of historical study.

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