The return of King John: using depth to strengthen overview in the teaching of political change


By Dale Banham, published 8th December 2008

Dale Banham's article in Teaching History 92, ‘Getting ready for the Grand Prix: learning to build a substantiated argument in Year 7' has influenced much debate about extended writing. It has been influential way beyond the history education community. It also raised new questions about the management of historical content. Many teachers were fascinated at the way in which Dale and his department spent such a long time on King John - eight weeks! Yet all Dale was doing was using the freedom that the 1995 National Curriculum gave us to blend outline and depth. The 2000 National Curriculum makes this freedom even more explicit. Dale makes it clear that he does not see this as an excuse to be cavalier with historical knowledge. In fact, he is very keen on outlines and overviews and systematic in his attempts to teach pupils about the nature of long-term historical change. His article argues the paradox that the more time spent in ‘depth' study, the more efficient, memorable and historically valid will be your subsequent ‘overviews'.

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