Diversity in the past

The materials in this section are all focused on the choices that teachers have to make about the substantive content of their curriculum. The diversity that all students encounter within the past – the range of specific individuals and groups of people about whom they learn – and the ways in which different topics are treated within the curriculum are known to impact on the extent to which young people engage with school history and on the connections that they see between past and present. The resources in this section illustrate different ways in which teachers have increased the diversity of their curriculum – paying more attention, for example, to women other than monarchs in the early modern period; examining the work of  Black British civil rights campaigners; or questioning the stereotype of the English ‘Tommy’ in examining who fought for Britain on the Western Front. Teachers will need to develop their own subject knowledge if they are to teach more diverse pasts and many of these resources help to provide some of that new knowledge or show where it can be found.

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  • 'Doing justice to history': the learning of African history in a North London secondary school

    Article

    ‘Doing justice to history': the learning of African history in a North London secondary school and teacher development in the spirit of ubuntuThe medium is the message, Marshall McLuhan observed many years ago and the ‘form' of what we do carries ‘content' as Hayden White has argued. This article reports...

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  • 'How our area used to be back then' An oral history project in an east London school

    Article

    How can oral history enquiries engage students with the study of history and help them connect their learning about the past to their present lives? How can oral history engage and develop students' understanding of history as a process of knowledge construction? What scope does local historical study provide for...

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  • 'There is no end to a circle nor to what can be done within it.' Circle Time in the secondary history classroom

    Article

    Circle Time is a commonly used technique in primary classrooms and is sometimes used in secondary personal and social education lessons. This open form of classroom organisation allows pupils to share opinions in a democratic environment. John Stanier came across Circle Time through pastoral lessons but saw plenty of opportunity...

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  • 'Victims of history': Challenging students’ perceptions of women in history

    Article

    As postgraduate historians with teaching responsibilities at the University of York, Bridget Lockyer and Abigail Tazzyman were concerned to tackle some of the challenges reported by their students who had generally only encountered women’s history in a disconnected way through stand-alone topics or modules. Their response was to create a...

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  • A comparative revolution?

    Article

    An argument for in-depth study of the Iranian revolution in a familiar way Although the curriculum changes of 2008 brought with them new GCSE specifications, Jonathan White was disappointed by the dated feel of some ‘Modern World' options, particularly the depth studies on offer. Drawing on his experience of teaching...

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  • Beyond tokenism: diverse history post-14

    Article

    Nick Dennis shows how a ‘multidirectional memory’ approach to teaching history can move history teachers beyond seeing black history as separate or distracting from the history that must be aught at examination level. He gives examples of ways in which a diverse history can be built into examination courses, strengthening...

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  • Bringing psychology into history: why do some stories disappear?

    Article

    History is always a relationship between the present and the past and the meaning of the past shifts as values and events change in the present. In this article Anne Llewellyn and Helen Snelson use a fascinating individual search for the meaning of a family past to get pupils thinking about...

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  • Britain was our home': Helping Years 9, 10, and 11 to understand the black experience of the Second World War

    Article

    In this article, Helena Stride shows how the Imperial War Museum responded to criticism that insufficient attention had been paid to the contribution of black and Asian people to Britain’s wars. She focuses on one of two resource-packs produced by the Museum, which highlights the experience of Britain’s colonial peoples,...

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  • Cunning Plan 143: enquiries about the British empire

    Article

    I wanted to give my Year 8 students ownership of their work on the British Empire by allowing them to suggest our ‘enquiry question'. In order to introduce the Empire, I brought in sugar, spices, bananas, chilli peppers and cotton. I then showed maps demonstrating the Empire at its height....

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  • Cunning Plan 167: teaching the industrial revolution

    Article

    ‘Disastrous and terrible.’ For Arnold Toynbee, the historian who gave us the phrase ‘industrial revolution’, these three words sum up the period of dramatic technological change that took place in Britain across the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. We may not habitually use Toynbee’s description in the classroom, but it is...

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  • Cunning Plan 173: using Black Tudors as a window into Tudor England

    Article

    On 29 September 2018 I was fortunate enough to get involved with a collaborative project with Dr Miranda Kaufmann, the Historical Association, Schools History Project, and a brilliant group of people from different backgrounds all committed to teaching about black Tudors. In this short piece, I will share how I...

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  • Defying the ‘constrictive grip of typologies’

    Article

    History teachers have frequently made recourse to character cards as a device to help young people, each assigned specific roles, to understand how different kinds of people responded in different ways to particular situations in the past. Edward FitzGerald builds on this tradition, demonstrating the value of using rich historical...

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  • Designing an enquiry in a challenging setting

    Article

    Bridging the divide with a question and a kaleidoscope: designing an enquiry in a challenging settingThe Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) is a Cyprus-based organization that works to foster dialogue among history teachers and other educators across the divide in Cyprus. In one of their UN-funded projects, ADHR members...

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  • Developing Year 8 students' conceptual thinking about diversity in Victorian society

    Article

    How Victorian were the Victorians? Developing Year 8 students' conceptual thinking about diversity in Victorian societyElizabeth Carr writes here about a new scheme of work she developed to teach students about diversity in Victorian society. When dealing with a concept such as diversity, it can be easy for students to...

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  • Do we need another hero? Rorke's Drift

    Article

    Do we need another hero? Year 8 get to grips with the heroic myth of the Defence of Rorke's Drift in 1879 Mike Murray shares a lesson sequence in which his students examined changing interpretations of the Battle of Rorke's Drift in 1879. Building on earlier work on teaching interpretations...

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  • Don't worry, Mr. Trimble. We can handle it' Balancing the rationale and the emotional in teaching of contentious topics

    Article

    A common line amongst teachers and policy-makers seeking to theorise a workable relationship between history and the new subject of citizenship is to say that there must be a link with the present. This is harder than it sounds. If the implication is that the study of the past should...

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  • Drilling down: how one history department is working towards progression in pupils' thinking about diversity across Years 7, 8 and 9

    Article

    Matthew Bradshaw shares the early, tentative efforts of his history department to shape a new Key Stage 3 workscheme in the light of the 2008 National Curriculum for England. While his department's scheme is designed to secure progression in all conceptual areas, he chooses to focus here on the concept...

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  • Equiano - voice of silent slaves?

    Article

    Andrew Wrenn shows how a study of the life of Olaudah Equiano can support pupils’ historical learning in a number of ways. Not only is this a ‘little story’ that can help to illuminate or raise questions about the the ‘big picture’, it can also help pupils to reflect upon...

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  • Exploring pupils' difficulties when arguing about a diverse past

    Article

    Wrestling with diversity: exploring pupils' difficulties when arguing about a diverse pastHow can we develop students' ability to argue about diversity? Sarah Black explores this question through classroom research that set out to help students think in complex ways about diversity, drawing on Burbules' work on conceptualising difference and diversity....

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  • Getting medieval (and global) at Key Stage 3

    Article

    Taking new historical research into the classroom: getting medieval (and global) at Key Stage 3 Although history teachers frequently work with academic historical writing, direct face-to-face encounters with academic historians are rare in secondary history classrooms. This article reports a collaboration between an academic historian and a history teacher that...

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