Historical Argument

One of the most widely shared misconceptions among young people is that there can be one ‘true’ story of the past and that the value of any given interpretation depends on how closely it approximates to this ideal account. Enabling students to recognise that what historians are actually doing when they write about the past is advancing a series of claims – presenting and defending an argument – will help them not only in handling different interpretations but also in improving their own writing.  Read more

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  • Short cuts to deep knowledge

    Article

    Sam Pullan explains how a chance encounter has helped him to improve his introduction to the modern themes and founding documents of US politics. Working with a professional historian whom he met, by chance, over dinner, he was able to produce lessons at the cutting edge of subject knowledge to...

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  • Historical learning using concept cartoons

    Article

    Although perhaps unfamiliar to the majority of our readers, concept cartoons are not a new educational tool. Christoph Kühberger here lays out his rationale for using this technique, borrowed from science education, in history teaching. Concept cartoons provide a means for pupils to express such difficult historical concepts as the...

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  • Move Me On 186: trainee provides little scope for students to use their knowledge in analysis/argument

    Article

    Move Me On is designed to build critical, informed debate about the character of teacher training, teacher education and professional development. It is also designed to offer practical help to all involved in training new history teachers. Each issue presents a situation in initial teacher education/training with an emphasis upon...

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  • Year 7 use oral traditions to make claims about the rise and fall of the Inka empire

    Article

    As part of her department’s effort to diversify the history curriculum, Paula Worth began a quest to research and then shape a lesson sequence around the Inkas. Her article shows how she allowed the new topic and its historiography to challenge and extend her own use of sources, particularly oral tradition....

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  • The mechanics of history: interpretations and claim construction processes

    Article

    Holly Hiscox was concerned that many of her A-level students – asked to evaluate three different historical interpretations for their non-examined assessment task – still tended to hold unhelpful misconceptions about the nature of interpretations. In this article she explains how she created an introductory scheme of work to help them understand...

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  • Being an historian

    Article

    In this article, Robin Conway and Amy Scott show how they made use of online source archives to replicate the experience of an academic historian in the classroom. By changing the way that students approach sources, moving away from both ‘fun activities’ and formulaic exam preparation towards a more authentic experience, they show how students’ interpretation of sources can demonstratehigher-level thinking. Through the use...

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  • Year 9 use sources to explore contemporary meanings and understandings of appeasement

    Article

    After reflecting on the difference between his study of source extracts at university and how he was using source extracts in the classroom, Jonathan Sellin went in search of a new way to help his pupils to situate sources in context. Finding inspiration in the work of intellectual historian Quentin...

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  • Why does anyone do anything? Attempts to improve agentive explanations with Year 12

    Article

    In this article Sophie Harley-McKeown identifies and addresses her Year 12 students’ blind spot over agentive explanation. Noticing that the examination board to which she teaches uses ‘motivations’ rather than ‘aims’ prompted her to consider whether her students really knew what that meant. Finding that her students’ causal explanations tended...

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  • How introducing cultural and intellectual history improves critical analysis in the classroom

    Article

    In his article in this journal just over a year ago, Steven Driver set out his vision for a less myopic range of topics in A-level coursework. In this edition, Driver demonstrates how he has built student enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, a topic which he had previously identified as...

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  • Teaching Year 9 to argue like cultural historians

    Article

    Alex Benger asks whether the mode of enquiry adopted by cultural historians, the construction of webs of past meaning from past perspectives, is underexplored in school history. Benger used a cultural history approach in his building of an enquiry for Year 9 around one man’s experience of the First World...

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  • Family stories and global (hi)stories

    Article

    Teaching in Greece, a country with extensive recent experience of immigration, Maria Vlachaki and Georgia Kouseri were interested to examine how they might use family history as a means of exploring the historical dimensions of this potentially sensitive topic. They hoped that encouraging pupils to explore their relatives’ stories would...

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  • Modelling the discipline

    Article

    David Hibbert and Zaiba Patel decided to work together after becoming concerned that school history curricula might not enable students to interrogate popular British mythologising about World War II. Building on these pre-existing concerns, their collaboration with the historian Yasmin Khan yielded an Interpretations enquiry which asked students to consider...

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  • Historical and interdisciplinary enquiry into the sinking of the Mary Rose

    Article

    The raising of Henry VIII’s warship, the Mary Rose, from the sea bed set in train an extraordinary programme of interdisciplinary research, relentlessly pursuing the clues to Tudor life and death provided by the remains of the ship, its cargo and crew. In this article Clare Barnes offers fascinating insights...

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  • The dialogic dimensions of knowing and understanding the Norman legacy in Chester

    Article

    Michael Bird and Thomas Wilson focus their attention directly on the voices of pupils, in dialogue with their teacher and with each other, as they draw inferences from differing sources about the Norman legacy in Chester. By carefully examining dialogue stimulated by these sources, Bird and Wilson demonstrate not only...

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  • New, Novice or Nervous? 174: Building students' historical talk

    Article

    How do we get our students to talk more in lessons? No, not like that! How have history teachers engaged with the issue of students’ historical – and general – oracy? Talking about history is not the same skill as writing about it. It is more immediate, and more easily...

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  • Structuring a history curriculum for powerful revelations

    Article

    When planning a Key Stage 3 curriculum with his department, Will Bailey-Watson began to question some of the commonsense orthodoxies regarding chronological sequencing and curriculum design. Drawing on pre-existing debates about curricular structuring in the history education community both in England and internationally, Bailey-Watson identified cognitive, motivational, and disciplinary justifications...

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  • From flight paths to spiders’ webs: developing a progression model for Key Stage 3

    Article

    The disapplication of level descriptions in the 2014 National Curriculum has spurred many history departments to rethink their approach not only to assessment but to their models of progression. In this article Rachael Cook builds on the recent work of history teachers such as Ford (TH157), Hawkey et al (TH161),...

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  • Couching counterfactuals in knowledge when explaining the Salem witch trials with Year 13

    Article

    Puzzled by the shrugs and unimaginative responses of his students when asked certain counterfactual questions, James Edward Carroll set out to explore what types of counterfactual questions would elicit sophisticated causal explanations. During his pursuit of the ‘gold standard’ of counterfactual reasoning, Carroll drew upon theories of academic history in...

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  • Dealing with the consequences

    Article

    Do GCSE and A-level questions that purport to be about consequences actually reward reasoning about historical consequences at all? Molly-Ann Navey concluded that they do not and that they fail to encourage the kind of argument that academic historians engage in when reaching judgements about consequences. Navey decided that it...

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  • The devil is the detail

    Article

    Like many history departments, Hugh Richards' department at Huntington School uses enquiry questions to structure their medium-term planning. Yet Richards noticed that his efforts to build knowledge across an enquiry by teaching macro-narratives as an unfolding story seemed to make it harder for some pupils to see and retain the...

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