Linking history to life

Meena Sriram

History. The word spontaneously fills the adult head with memories. They are either names of kings, or dates or a myriad other events. Well, memories are a part of history; they have to do with events in the past! Any subject is, as good as the teacher. Some readers may not agree with this statement, but, history largely belongs to this category. It surely is not an easy task to make a history class as interesting as a science class. We have labs in schools where children can feel and experiment with materials or chemicals. History is left to the ability of the teacher to brighten it.

One of the possible ways to deal with this would be to teach history logically. How is that possible? Helping children draw a common thread through different time periods, comparing and contrasting changes and developments within periods and with progressive ones, making an objective analysis of day-to-day situations and comparing the same with events in the past, will enable children to not only introspect but find solutions to present day problems from history. Most textbooks in grade 6 have the first chapter dedicated to ‘why we should learn history’. If the teacher can connect with the reasons given in the chapter deeply and sincerely, history classes will surely become more interesting.

Children from grades 7 upwards are adept at reading and comprehending the textbooks given to them. They are also capable of spotting the right answers and writing them out. They can read and remember too. Given this fact, what is the role of the history teacher? The teacher should be able to help children see the connections, interpret the facts, analyze situations, value evidences and other such skills rather than promote learning by rote and recall. Children should also be taught how to consolidate information, using mind maps and timelines in order to facilitate quick recall. It is true that there are no labs where children can touch and feel history. However, the classroom could turn into an experimental zone, where children could be guided on how to use history. The lab of the history class is the world itself, complete with its present day situations.

The author is a teacher of history in Abacus Montessori School, Perungandi, Chennai. She can be reached at meenasriram@gmail.com.

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