Sense of period

Developing a sense of period is about going beyond knowledge of dates and period labels to help students appreciate the kind of world in which the people that they are studying actually lived. Such understanding is obviously supported by knowledge of key events, but it also depends on being able to visualise the period – recognising the kind of conditions in which people lived – and on an appreciation of the routine ideas and assumptions that shaped their thinking.  The resources in this section offer a range of strategies to help teachers plan for the development of this kind of awareness, focusing particularly on the different kinds of sources that can be used to make the ideas and attitudes of people in the past accessible and meaningful in their particular context.  

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  • Move Me On 167: Frames of reference

    Article

    This feature is designed to build critical, informed debate about the character of teacher training, teacher education and professional development. This issue’s problem: Eleanor Franks doesn’t really understand her students’ frames of reference and the difficulties that many of them have in making sense of the particular historical phenomena she is teaching them about. Eleanor Franks,...

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  • Why are you wearing a watch? Complicating narratives of economic and social progress

    Article

    Frustrated by the traditional narrative of the industrial revolution as a steady march of progress, and disappointed by her students’ dull and deterministic statements about historical change, Hannah Sibona decided to complicate the tidy narrative of continual improvement. Inspired by an article by E.P. Thompson, Sibona reflected that introducing her...

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  • Polychronicon 166: The ‘new’ historiography of the Cold War

    Article

    A great deal of new writing on the Cold War sits at the crossroads of national, transnational and global perspectives. Such studies can be so self-consciously multi-archival and multipolar, methodologically pluralist in approach and often ‘decentring’ in aim, that some scholars now worry that the Cold War risks losing its coherence as a distinct object of...

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  • ‘If you had told me before that these students were Russians, I would not have believed it’

    Article

    Bjorn Wansink and his co-authors have aligned their teaching of a recent and controversial historical issue – the Cold War – in the light of a contemporary incident. This article demonstrates a means of ensuring that students understand that different cultures’ views of their shared past are nuanced, rather than monolithic – a different concept in philosophy as well as in...

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  • Of the many significant things that have ever happened, what should we teach?

    Article

    There are three basic strands to our lessons. How should we teach? What skills should we enable our students to build? What content should we use to deliver those skills? In this article Tony McConnell, who has been re-designing the curriculum in his school in response to a changed examination regimen, considers the issue of subject...

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  • Cunning Plan 166: developing an enquiry on the First Crusade

    Article

    "What shall I say next? We were all indeed huddled together like sheep in a fold, trembling and frightened, surrounded on all sides by enemies so that we could not turn in any direction. It was clear to us that this had happened because of our sins. A great clamour rose to the sky, not...

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  • Move Me On 165: Capturing student interest vs. sense of period

    Article

    This issue’s problem: In her concern to capture students’ interest Jennet Preston tends to present people in the past as weird and wonderful aliens... Jennet Preston has come into teaching as a second career, following a break to look after her young children. She is enthusiastic and full of ideas for...

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  • The Power of Context: using a visual source

    Article

    Drawing on her wealth of experience and expertise in using visual sources in the classroom, in this article Jane Card explores how a single painting, a portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, might form the basis for a sequence of lessons. Arguing that although highly...

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  • Pedagogical framework for stimulating historical contextualisation

    Article

    'Why am I accused of being a heretic?' A pedagogical framework for stimulating historical contextualisation One of the challenges facing students who want to make sense of a source or an interpretation of the past is the need to place it in its context. Various research studies have shown that students...

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  • Building and assessing historical knowledge on three scales

    Article

    The knowledge that ‘flavours' a claim: towards building and assessing historical knowledge on three scales While marking some Year 11 essays, Kate Hammond found her interest caught by significant differences between one kind of strong analysis and another. Some scored high marks but were less convincing. The achievement in these...

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  • 'But why then?' Chronological context and historical interpretations

    Article

    When Michael Fordham was introduced to Dr Seuss's Butter Battle Book he immediately recognised its potential value in the classroom as a popular interpretation of the Cold War. Wanting his Year 9 pupils to explain how and why the past has been interpreted in different ways he shows the potential pitfalls...

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  • Period, place and mental space

    Article

    Period, place and mental space: using historical scholarship to develop Year 7 pupils' sense of period What is a sense of period? And how can pupils' sense of period be developed? Questions such as these have troubled history teachers for many years, often revolving around debates over the role played by...

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  • Historical consciousness in sixth-form students

    Article

    Moving forwards while looking back: historical consciousness in sixth-form students A key concern driving debates about curriculum reform in England is anxiety that young people's knowledge of the past is too episodic - that they lack a coherent ‘narrative' or ‘map' of the past. While recent debate focused on what...

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  • Year 9 face up to historical difference

    Article

    How many people does it take to make an Essex man? Year 9 face up to historical difference Teaching her Key Stage 3 students in Essex, Catherine McCrory was struck by the stark contrast between their enthusiasm for studying diverse histories of Africa and the Americas and their reluctance to...

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  • Year 9 - Connecting past, present and future

    Article

    Possible futures: using frameworks of knowledge to help Year 9 connect past, present and future How can we help pupils integrate history into coherent ‘Big Pictures' or mental frameworks? Building on traditions of classroom research and theorising reported in earlier editions of Teaching History, Dan Nuttall reports how his department set...

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  • Knowledge and the Draft NC

    Article

    Silk purse from a sow's ear? Why knowledge matters and why the draft History NC will not improve it Katie Hall and Christine Counsell attempt to construct a Key Stage 3 scheme of work out of the draft National Curriculum for history that was released for consultation in England in...

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  • Enquiries to engage Year 7 in medieval anarchy

    Article

    Wrestling with Stephen and Matilda: planning challenging enquiries to engage Year 7 in medieval anarchy McDougall found learning about Stephen and Matilda fascinating, was sure that her pupils would also and designed an enquiry to engage them in ‘the anarchy' of 1139-1153 AD. Pupils enjoyed exploring ‘the anarchy' and learning...

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  • Transforming historical understanding through scripted drama

    Article

    An article on scripted drama might seem an unlikely choice for an edition devoted to getting students talking. Surely the point about a script is that the words used are chosen and prescribed by others. However, the examples presented here by Helen Snelson, Ruth Lingard and Kate Brennan demonstrate how...

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

    Article

    Developing Year 8 students' conceptual thinking about diversity in Victorian society Elizabeth 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 slip into stereotypes based...

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  • Exploring diversity at GCSE

    Article

    Having already reflected on ways of improving their students' understanding of historical diversity at Key Stage 3, Joanne Philpott and Daniel Guiney set themselves the challenge of extending this to post-14 students by means of fieldwork activities at First World War battlefields sites. In addition, they wanted to link the study...

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