Teacher Plus continues its annual tradition of bringing out a special subject-focused issue with this bumper issue on History. This is a subject that has been relegated to the back burners of most students’ minds with most schools de-emphasizing its study. Therefore its teaching has mostly remained cursory and uninspired. Those who take up history are often discouraged by the perception that it is less important and our technology-inclined parents tend to think it is something that must be endured. But as many of the writers in this issue have noted, the importance of history stares out at us from the pages of every newspaper, in the breakdown of every political negotiation and in the flaring up of tensions within and between communities across the country. Clearly, we need to rediscover and restate its relevance to our lives – and where better to do this than in our classrooms?
While the idea of working on a special issue on this subject excited us, the scope and range of possible topics was daunting. We wrote to many people, teachers, writers and scholars of history, and received an encouraging and generous response. We were keen on exploring what we saw as three key questions: How do we understand and define history? Why is it important to our lives and the way we live? How can we create interesting opportunities for students to discover these answers within (and outside) the history classroom?
What we have managed to assemble here is certainly only a small slice of the countless things that could be done in a history class, but it is something for teachers to take forward in their own ways.