Combating a Cook-centric past through co-curricular learning

Teaching History article

By Paula Worth, published 2nd April 2014

Combating a Cook-centric past through co-curricular learning: Year 9 dig out maps and rulers to challenge generalisations about the Age of Discovery

Paula Worth presents in this article a means of challenging students' tendency to generalise even when they know that they should not. How can we encourage our students to say something meaningful about the past while avoiding making unwarranted generalisations?

Worth takes us through the process of planning her own enquiry designed to do this while teaching students about the Age of Discovery. She begins with the familiar realisation, prompted by her assessment of her students' work, that all is not quite well, and then explains (via the work of several authors familiar to readers of this journal, a visit to, liaison with other departments and several cups of coffee) how she plans lessons designed to  sharpen up her pupils' appreciation of a key historical concept. The result is a decision-making activity which leaves her students a little less certain about what actually happened in the past - but aware, as historians should be, of the limitations of historical knowledge...

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