Conceptual awareness through categorising: using ICT to get Year 13 reading


By Arthur Chapman, published 31st May 2003

When presenting their practical approaches to post-16 teaching in Teaching History 103, both Richard Harris and Rachael Rudham argued that students need to ‘do’ things with information, to process it, play with it, classify it, if they are ever to understand or remember it. They made a case for not separating acquisition of detail from thinking, doing, reflecting and arguing. Indeed, as Kate Hammond has often argued, if we blend knowledge, skill and conceptual understanding, we actually start to solve ‘content coverage’ problems altogether, doubling up the value of all we do. This ‘doubling up’ is the theme of Arthur Chapman’s article. He calls it ‘multi-stranded’ teaching. His approach simultaneously builds knowledge, motivates students with a puzzle and equips them to become active, critical and probing with a text. His central theme is categorisation. He uses categorisation as a tool for thinking, as a way of getting students to choose and use concepts, and as an important stage in helping them to frame their own, supported, historical judgements. As a result, he found that not only could students evaluate Jonathan Clark’s claims but that the combination of expanded knowledge and purposeful reflection enabled them to refine their thinking about the idea of power. Oh... and his department does all this through ICT.

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