Using ancient texts to improve pupils' critical thinking

Teaching History article

By Beth Baker and Steven Mastin, published 9th July 2012

Did Alexander really ask, ‘Do I appear to you to be a bastard?' Using ancient texts to improve pupils' critical thinking

Beth Baker and Steven Mastin make the case for teaching ancient history in the post-14 curriculum. Pointing out the damaging messages that could be conveyed by assuming that ancient history is not worthy of higher-level and demanding study, they also show the opportunities that are missed if pupils do not return to it when they are able to apply their learning from the 11 to 14 compulsory curriculum (Key Stage 3). Baker and Mastin show that ancient texts are uniquely demanding and uniquely fascinating because they require pupils to draw together all their learning both from thinking about sources as evidence and from thinking about sources as subsequent interpretations. All this is familiar territory for pupils in England and Wales in the 11 to 14 curriculum, but all too easy forgotten in the post-14 curriculum, just when pupils were ready to start to do something more exciting and challenging with it.

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