Using historical scholarship

There is a long tradition of history teachers using historical scholarship whether to shape their enquiry questions using real questions that academic historians pursued, to gain new knowledge for enriching lessons or simply to keep inspiring the passion that fired their first love of history so that they can display it to pupils in the classroom itself.   A tradition within this is the curriculum component ‘Interpretations’ - a sustained fixture of England’s national curriculum for history since 1991 which has spawned its own tradition of shared practice, research and debate.  If you want to find out specifically about ‘Interpretations of history’, where there will be much reference to historical scholarship, go to InterpretationsRead more

Sort by: Date (Newest first) | Title A-Z
Show: All | Articles | Podcasts | Multipage Articles
  • Deepening Year 9’s knowledge for better causation arguments

    Article

    Frustrated by her students’ glib use of catch-all terms such as ‘militarism’ in addressing causation, Alexia Michalaki wanted her Year 9 students to produce mature causal explanations of World War I. To encourage this to happen she went back into decades of pedagogical writing and research, teasing out the ways...

    Click to view
  • 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...

    Click to view
  • Move Me On 182: thinks that substantive knowledge is all that matters

    Article

    Lina Power has interpreted an emphasis on knowledge organisers and factual knowledge tests to mean that substantive knowledge is all that matters. 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...

    Click to view
  • Cunning Plan 181: Incorporating a more global perspective within Key Stage 3

    Article

    While lockdown, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, brought a period of turbulence to the education sector, it also brought a wealth of generosity, with a vast range of free online CPD offered by different providers. One in particular was the webinar series ‘West African History before the 1600s’ hosted...

    Click to view
  • What have historians been arguing about: African history in the precolonial period?

    Article

    The George Floyd killing and the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK have led to an upsurge in interest in African history: how (and whether) it is taught, where it is taught, and who teaches it. Although it is widely recognised that slavery must be taught, there is a desire for history...

    Click to view
  • 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...

    Click to view
  • Film: What's the wisdom on...Historical Interpretations

    Article

    We’ve been talking to our secondary school members and we know how difficult life is for teachers in the current circumstances, so we wanted to lend a helping hand. 'What’s the wisdom on…' is a new and already popular feature in our secondary journal Teaching History and provides the perfect stimulus for a...

    Click to view
  • Film: What's the wisdom on...Evidence and sources

    Article

    We’ve been talking to our secondary school members and we know how difficult life is for teachers in the current circumstances, so we wanted to lend a helping hand. 'What’s the wisdom on…' is a new and already popular feature in our secondary journal Teaching History and provides the perfect stimulus for a...

    Click to view
  • 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...

    Click to view
  • Polychronicon 177: The New Deal in American history

    Article

    Over 50 years ago I read my first serious book on American history. I can still remember the excitement of reading William E. Leuchtenburg’s Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932–1940. His description of FDR and American politics in the 1930s seemed so much more colourful and dramatic than...

    Click to view
  • Historical scholarship, archaeology and evidence in Year 7

    Article

    The stimulus for this article came from two developmental tasks that Barbara Trapani was set during the course of her initial teacher education programme: planning her first historical enquiry and bringing the work of an historian into the classroom. Trapani chose to tackle the two tasks together, using Susan Whitfield’s...

    Click to view
  • What’s the wisdom on… Evidence and sources

    Article

    The purpose of this guide. What's the Wisdom On... is a short guide providing new history teachers with an overview of the ‘story so far’ of practice-based professional thinking about a particular aspect of history teaching. It draws on tried and tested approaches arising from teachers with years of experimenting, researching,...

    Click to view
  • Teaching Year 9 to take on the challenge of structure in narrative

    Article

    Reflecting on challenges that had surfaced in their own and others’ efforts to get pupils to write historical narratives, Rachel Foster and Kath Goudie went back to the drawing board to consider the disciplinary purposes of narrative. They used both historical scholarship and theoretical works by historians on narrative construction....

    Click to view
  • Making reading routine

    Article

    Inspired by the growing number of history teachers who have sought to introduce younger pupils to academic historical scholarship in the classroom, Tim Jenner wanted to bring about his own reading revolution at Key Stage 3. But rather than simply develop one-off lessons or enquiries based on scholarship his goal...

    Click to view
  • ‘This extract is no good, Miss!’

    Article

    Frustrated that her A-level students were being overly dismissive when asked to judge the convincingness of academic historians’ arguments, Paula Worth drew on previous history-teacher research and theories of history for inspiration. After noting that her students would unjustly reject esteemed historians’ accounts for lack of comprehensiveness, Worth explains here...

    Click to view
  • Reading? What reading?

    Article

    Discussions with sixth-form students about reading led Carolyn Massey and Paul Wiggin to start a sixth-formreading group. They describe here the series of themed sessions that they planned, and the student discussion and reflections that resulted. Listening to their students discuss their reading led Massey and  Wiggin to reflect on what is meant by ‘reading around’ the subject, and its role in students’ intellectual...

    Click to view
  • Anything but brief: Year 8 students encounter the longue durée

    Article

    Inspired by The History Manifesto, Suzanne Powell describes in this article her rationale for expanding her students’ horizons by asking them to think about change, similarity and difference on a grand scale. She sets ‘big history’ into its curricular context, and shows the way in which her students could, and...

    Click to view
  • Polychronicon 170: The Becket Dispute

    Article

    ‘The Becket Dispute’ (or ‘Controversy’) refers to the quarrel between Henry II and Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, which dominated English ecclesiastical politics in the 1160s. It was a conflict with multiple dimensions: a clash of Church and State; a prolonged struggle between two prominent individuals; a close friendship turned...

    Click to view
  • Triumphs Show 167: Keeping the 1960s complicated

    Article

    During her PGCE year, it became evident to Rachel Coleman just how much pupils struggled with the complicated nature of history. They were troubled in particular by the lack of definitive answers, by the range of perspectives that might be held at the time of a particular event or development...

    Click to view
  • 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...

    Click to view