The elephant in the room
This workshop took place at the HA Annual Conference May 2016 in Harrogate.
The elephant in the room: knowledge. How can knowledge help us in long-term planning and assessment?
Christine Counsell, University of Cambridge
It seems so obvious to history teachers that historical knowledge is vital that very often it isn’t talked about (other than in exhausted moans about the challenge of ‘covering content’ at GCSE). But more reflection on what it is and what it does could help us harness it more effectively. Quite apart from its more obvious role in stopping pupils from asking if 1923 was before or after the First World War, knowledge clears headspace to think and it drives curiosity. Knowledge also leads to fluent recognition of abstract nouns such as ‘treaty’, ‘parliament’ or ‘federal’ and it stops pupils writing ‘there was an appeasement in Germany’. This session argues that far from being a Gradgrindian imposition, thorough attention to knowledge growth is liberating and thorough analysis and assessment of its development could help us. Knowledge is the best friend of argument and debate.