The devil is the detail

Teaching History journal article

By Hugh Richards, published 26th September 2018

Are we teaching history the wrong way around?

Like many history departments, Hugh Richards' department at Huntington School uses enquiry questions to structure their medium-term planning. Yet Richards noticed that his efforts to build knowledge across an enquiry by teaching macro-narratives as an unfolding story seemed to make it harder for some pupils to see and retain the bigger picture and use this effectively in their analysis. Here he shares his department’s efforts to develop a ‘macro-micro’ approach in which pupils are introduced to the whole story at the very start of the enquiry before it is fleshed out in subsequent lessons. He argues that such an approach can help pupils to assimilate and contextualise new knowledge more rapidly, freeing them to engage in analysis. 

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