Reading and enquiring in Years 12 and 13

A case study on women in the Third Reich

By Alison Kitson, published 31st May 2003

Historical enquiry is blooming at Key Stage 3. Thanks to a rich array of source materials available on the web and in textbooks, superb history-specific training courses and genuinely innovative practice in schools, pupils can increasingly be found wrestling with demanding and often lengthy sources. They do this in order to answer valid historical questions, rather than to engage in a pointless series of exercises about reliability and bias. The tyranny of assessment at GCSE and Advanced Level , however, can stifle this creative and imaginative use of source material. Students once again struggle to make meaningful sense of short gobbets, attempting to reach informed, critical judgements on the basis of inadequate evidence. ‘Sourcework’ can, in this context, become a chore, a necessary evil in order to pass an exam. In this article, Alison Kitson suggests ways of tackling this problem at Advanced Level by suggesting strategies that enliven evidence-based work whilst also meeting the requirements of formal assessment.

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