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2. History lesson: It's specificity and requirements

History is a particularly peculiar subject to handle due to a number of factors. Teachers deal with things that cannot be proved, historical information is never complete and moreover it is always open to personal interpretation. History is said to make us learn from our own mistakes, but even this concept is only partly true, since the notion ”mistake” is relative in  a historical context. What is considered to be a mistake by one party, can be perceived as a great success by others (O’Hara L., O’Hara M., 2001).

Despite all its complexity, history is one of the most meaningful subjects in primary school. History lessons serve not only to transport important factual information into children's heads, but also encourages interest in questioning and inquiry. Thus, history lessons develop deductive, critical and perceptive thinking and the ability to make insights into the modern world's working and structure. Another important function of history in general is transmitting cultural heritage, values and beliefs, which contribute to social, spiritual and moral development of children. Historical knowledge builds a perspective into the future as well as into the past, though it is not prophetic (O’Hara L., O’Hara M., 2001; Husbands et al, 2003).

As we have mentioned above, different perceptions of historical events mаkes it a very cоmplicated subject to teach, partly because adults cоme to acсumulate pоlitical and econоmical views on the subject. These are notably more abstrаct and theoreticаl than children's conceptions (Stephens W. B., 1997). One of our goals is to make a history lesson more personal, connecting it with local and family history.

Requirements for teachers, pupils, parents and tutors

Instructions on what teachers should do and how they should behave during history lessons are quite numerous and profound. Information and instructions can be found in all kinds of media easily, yet we think it is important to highlight a few main concepts. Disregarding the general aim of a history course - quick refreshment, coping with behavioral issues of groups rather than teaching history itself (for example, in groups with unhealthy social climate where general parenting is needed), working to pass an exam in a short period of time, or navigating an ordinary lesson - it is possible to single out some common strategical traits. According to Husbands et al, they are:

  • ability to manage student learning activities.
  • establishing the foundations of learning.
  • teach to construct a whole picture.
  • building historical understanding by presenting the notion of cause and effect.

It is crucial to evaluate the starting point of pupils and to have a clear understanding of what one wants to teach as well (Husbands et al, 2003).

Many authors of pedagogical literature agree that the following methods stimulate the process of learning and bring good results (Husbands, 1996):

  • constant questioning and reminders.
  • occasions of recap and consolidation.
  • annotating all kinds of material.

Children in their turn must be mature enough to be able to meet the intellectual demands of the subject. This factor is hugely dependent on adults’ interaction and there are several alternatives parents can use to achieve this goal (Lew, A. &  Bettner, B., 1996). The most important points are:

  • provide an environment for exploring with the possibility of direct interaction    between children and parents;
  • give ample time for finishing tasks and certain degree of independence;
  • leave space for self-evaluation and reflection;
  • organise challenging activities.

All in all, the final result depends on the extent of collaboration and cooperation between all participants of the process. We highlight this idea and the following parts of our chapter are based on it.

Discuss & brainstorm