Supporting initial teacher trainees to think about chronology

Primary History article

By Matthew Sossick, published 15th October 2011

Big timelines, bigger pictures: supporting initial teacher trainees to think big about chronology

Please note: this resource pre-dates the 2014 National Curriculum and some content and links may be outdated.

As a teacher trainer I am very conscious that many prospective primary teachers' formal history education stops at the age of 14. As a consequence their knowledge and understanding of history and sense of chronology can be relatively limited. Trainees need to be reminded of, or introduced to ways of working with historical time that ultimately help them to support pupil progression. This is vital yet challenging. As Pat Hoodless has pointed out:

Time is probably the concept which is fundamental to history, more so than any of the others. Since it is an abstract concept, it is known to be one of the hardest ideas for young children to understand (2008, p.13).

It seems as though the ‘chaos' of the past (Wood, 1995, p.11) is not being properly unpicked and organised in schools (Ofsted, 2011). Solutions are challenging given the lack of time for history on training courses. However, a curriculum that re-emphasises the teaching of chronology through ‘creative and active primary history lessons' (Hodkinson, 2009, p.11) provides a goal to aim for...

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