Does history happen as a matter of course or is it influenced by people’s decisions? Does this mean that history needs to be presented in ways that encourage serious reflection on the part of students/people about their own actions or inactions? How can students engage with history in a more productive way? The point to note here is that history has to be based on multiple accounts and not just one narrative and it is important for people to be more than just silent spectators.
Why should history be studied? Why does the past matter? How does it affect the present and can it be a guide to the future? History teachers may not find answers to these questions in the curriculum thus making it harder for them to inculcate in students an interest in the subject. Therefore teachers must deliberately plan to stimulate student thinking, help them ask the right questions and form balanced opinions so that they can connect the dots and arrive at a better understanding of the world.
How can teachers change the narratives that are prevalent about women in history? Is there a way stories can be retold so that they inspire others as well? Here is an account of how a designer and an art director, with her immense fascination for the women in history began a project to re-enact their stories and created different avatars of herself which she found profoundly empowering.
Dr. Arshiya Sethi
The introduction of the Arts in Education programme as part of NEP 2020 is a huge step towards making education holistic, integrated, enjoyable, and engaging. Apart from this, Arts integrated learning is also a part of NEP 2020 and a conscious thrust to joyful learning. History lessons which were a list of endless dates and events and had to be learned by rote can now be taught using ballads or songs of that era, students can also be exposed to regional art schools to learn more about the history of regional kingdoms. But before all this, syllabus makers and pedagogy experts need to work in tandem to create appropriate lead-ins for different subjects and levels.
While the history syllabus at the school level is vast and covers several topics over a period of four years beginning from the Indus Valley Civilization, there is not much depth in the lessons taught. Teachers are in a hurry to complete the syllabus and students rote learns to secure marks in their exams. In the process, historical thinking is compromised—a skill that is yet to be introduced in our classrooms. The need to contextualize our history, to nurture an appreciation for its contemporary relevance and to question injustices of the past and its relationship with the present is passed over for hollow academic success. Students graduate high school with near-perfect exam scores without distinguishing fact from opinion and primary from secondary sources.
Aashique Ahmed Iqbal
In a society that is driven by financial forces and technological developments what is the possible value of history? Can technology be utilized to convey the importance of history? What is the possible contribution of technology towards the enhancement of the value of history and acquiring a sound historical and critical understanding of both the past and the present? Unless teachers acquaint themselves with two latest technologies – the smartphone and AI chatbots – that are posing imminent challenges, they might find themselves marginalized in a highly technical landscape.
What is the history that should be taught in schools? Given that some facts are accurate and some not, that some views encompass a wider view of the world and others a narrow set of concerns, born of either survival issues or perceived threats, how is the question of what history should we ‘teach’ in schools to be resolved? The decision of what we include in history, and which version, is not an easy question.
Meena Megha Malhotra
Partition was and is the single most important event in our country’s history. Seventy five years on however, this event continues to be used in our history textbooks to fuel bias and rivalry. But in reality, Partition is actually a multiplicity of stories—each one weaving a tapestry of fragile truth and holding it together. A look at what the Partition stories really mean and what we can do about it.
How can one teach history to ‘little historians’ because most of the time, all they want is a simple narrative? They are most happy focusing on the present and their lived experiences. So the best way to get their attention is to approach history through flora and fauna, through ecology, through literature, the arts, and play.
Heritage is a magical learning space and not just a spot for sight-seeing. Children don’t need details of information. They don’t need rare facts, nor do they need knowledge of a hundred books. They need to be taken to spaces, where they feel safe and they need to be given time to sit there, to walk around to take in the smells and the sounds. For them experience is at the centre of all learning.