The particular and the general

Teaching History article

By Alexander Bridges, published 27th June 2018

Defining security in Year 8’s use of substantive concepts

When your pupils use terms such as ‘king’ and ‘Parliament,’ what image do they have in their head? Do they know what they are talking about at all? Do they have a nuanced, period-specific vision of what these terms mean in the context of their current historical studies, and of how these substantive concepts might have shifted in meaning?

This is the problem Alexander Bridges sets out here to assess: how far do his pupils know what such terms mean, and how can he find out? Working with Year 8 he shows how pupils’ understanding and misunderstandings can grow and develop. Bridges also makes a compelling case for studying James I as something more than a man who was nearly blown up and then taught his son about the divine right of kings.

Finally, he illustrates a way of conducting a very specific professional enquiry into a narrow aspect of practice with important implications for everything else that we do in building pupils’ historical understanding.

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