Taking history teaching forward

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

soldier In this instalment of primary pack and in the Classroom Update that follows, we continue the theme begun in the last issue of the magazine – History teaching. It’s especially important that young children begin to appreciate the value of different subjects so that they learn to not devalue one or other as they move up the grades in school. If history (even if it is not called as such) is made interesting and relevant in primary school, it retains its value even when the focus has shifted to marks and scores in high school.

History is about the past. History is about facts, right? Wrong. A better way to look at history would be as not merely the past, nor just facts. It is nothing less than fantasy and one radical way to understand it is to project it into the future.

So, what we are proposing is that one great way to learn and teach history is to get children to:
1. Build history through imagination (rather than facts).
2. Project it into a hypothetical future (what if the event had not happened).
3. Make children imagine that they face the same challenges (as the historical characters did) and get them to resolve the challenges.
4. Also, as a corollary to all of the above, children can predict how our present would have been if any historical event did not happen the way it did.

History, has at best, been either “told” to us, or we were made to act (play – act, storytelling, paintings, etc.). Therefore, there was really NO action. Whatever action was there, was only passive and often forgettable.

However, what can make history really enjoyable is when we are made to inter-act.

The authors run Geniekids, a learning centre in Bangalore that works with children. To know more about their work visit www.geniekids.com.

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