Telling tales


By Ed Brooker, published 8th December 2009

Developing students' own thematic and synoptic understandings at Key Stage 3

Ed Brooker is as concerned as the other authors within this edition that students should be able to see and make meaning out of ‘big pictures' of the past.

He is acutely aware, however, that teaching within well-structured enquiries and giving students the conceptual ‘pegs' on which to hang their knowledge of the past may not be enough.

In a radical departure from those who suggest outlining the ‘big picture' at the start of a series of lessons, he experiments with asking students to identify and define the key themes for themselves in the middle or towards the end of a scheme of work.

His approach depends critically on dialogue, and Brooker's strategies are adapted from the ‘community of enquiry' model developed within Philosophy for Children.

His experiments in two different schools reveal not only students' ability to generate and interrogate meaningful themes for themselves, but also the long-term importance of providing sustained opportunities for dialogue between students and between students and their teacher.

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