What’s The Wisdom On... Extended writing

Teaching History feature

Published: 4th October 2021

What’s The Wisdom On... Extended writing

Writing history is hard! But the things that make it challenging are the things that make it worth doing. They are also the key to enabling all students to write, to embrace the challenge and to enjoy its rewards enough to keep going. A big mistake is to kid ourselves that we can skip the challenges and shortcut to a nice tidy piece of writing that ticks all the boxes of some formula. If we do that, we might have helped pupils to produce a piece of writing, but we haven’t taught them to write.

What's the Wisdom On... is a short guide providing new history teachers with an overview of the ‘story so far’ of practice-based professional thinking about a particular aspect of history teaching. It draws on tried and tested approaches arising from teachers with years of experimenting, researching, practising, writing and debating their classroom experience. It therefore synthesises key messages from Teaching History articles, blogs and other publications. The guide includes practical suggestions suitable for any key stage and signposts basic reading essentials for new professionals. See all guides in this series

The difficulties are our friends History teachers have made great strides in the past 30 years by analysing the root difficulties and by addressing them head-on within a long-term plan tied to the wider purposes of excellent history teaching. Let’s think about these underlying difficulties as useful challenges, ones to be embraced, not to be side-stepped. These are the challenges of writing that will always make the brain ache, even for accomplished writers. If we don’t enable pupils to face and embrace that brain ache, as though there were some kit for assembling a piece of writing, some ‘colour by numbers’ magic, we fail to be honest about the means, purpose or rewards of writing well...

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