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Sep 28 26 tweets 13 min read
NEW: Welcome to part 3 of “Things I wish every new #historyteacher knew”. Today I want to explore what all new history teachers would benefit from knowing about the way history works and how we can open this up for young people. As ever I am drawing on @1972SHP Principles 🧵🪡
Before we begin, a little exercise. If you drew a diagram to show how historical interrogations are created, what would it look like? This is a task I get trainee teachers to do every year. If we want to explain our discipline we need to have a sense of how it works.
This is not just a “nice to know”. The National Curriculum actually demands that we introduce young people to the content of history as well as the concepts which underpin it and how it operates. Fulfilling our basic duties as history teachers requires engagement here.
I wonder what your diagram looked like? If it is anything like the ones my trainees tend to produce it was probably very complex with lots of arrows going all over the place.

This highlights an issue. History IS complex. It is content AND ways of knowing. Factual AND moral.
History cannot be reduced to a list of dates, events, or other content. Nor does history exist purely as an intellectual pursuit divorced from its subject of study - what Mark Bloch would define as, in my paraphrase, “people in time”. As teachers we have to hold both together.
At this point we should talk about acceptable simplification. How can we explore what history is in an intellectually valid way which is accessible to young people who have only just started realising the past is a thing?!

Enter @Hallam_VC ‘s amazing “What is History Teaching”
This is my own take on Husbands’ model of history. It is far from perfect but it offers a useful launching point to thinking about how the discipline of history works and what might need to be communicated to young people in line with @1972SHP ‘s second core principle
What I love about Husbands’ take is the quote about history being an active dialogue between past and present. This is also an echo of SHP’s 1976 document, “A New Look at History” which refers to the “act of resurrection”. Here I add two more aspects to the diag to reflect this
I should say at this point that we also put a pin in the fact that there are of course many debates over how history could and should function as a discipline. These are things we will revisit later - especially in terms of what counts as history and how relics are archived.
“A New Look at History” makes another claim which is foundational to enabling young people to understand history - that in order to afire of the subject we need specific pedagogical strategies which, in a Brunerian sense, involve students in the processes.
To put that another way, no amount of test and recall on the diagram we just saw will be enough to enable students to grasp the nature of history, for @1972SHP they need to experience the process for themselves. The best way to do this, is to launch into a focused enquiry
There are lots of great enquiries you can begin Year 7 with. One I love is @BearWithOneEar ‘s “skeletons at Maiden Castle” from a @HodderHistory @1972SHP textbook.

Students’ interest is grabbed by the discovery of 52 skeletons. Like historians, they begin by asking questions.
Then they explore some relics in an attempt to address 2 core questions: who were the skeletons and how did they die? Here you see some trainees engaging in this and turning the provided “clues” into evidence for the enquiry, focusing on connections and possibilities.
As students begin to form their ideas a key role of the teacher is to challenge their level of certainty. Students are asked to be careful and tentative in their conclusions, maybe even bringing in model verbs “could, might” in the manner @Ramble14 discussed in her recent blog.
At this point bringing in an overly confident hypothesis (their own or pre-made) can be a great tool for encouraging students to critique language choices and focus on certainty. This then leads into students writing their own hypotheses using language of certainty carefully.
The next step involves students coming up and placing themselves along a classroom wall according to how confident they are in their hypotheses. Other students then challenge or praise them on their use of evidence / language - emphasising the dialogic nature of history.
Students are then asked what they might like to strengthen their certainty. This leads us to the idea that good historians keep coming back to their sources and seek new insights. We add in some more sources and the process continues.
During this stage it is also possible to allow students to begin to explore possible answers to some of the other questions they asked at the beginning and even to suggest new sources they might like access to.
Because the enquiry has been designed so well there are some lovely “eureka” moments when pupils spots connections between the clues, but there are also clues which raise more questions too. Students are never really able to reach a definite conclusion.
This last point is key because it emphasises that idea that history is a search for truth but one which might lead in multiple directions and never reach an end - it is that active dialogue that remains important. This is fundamental to seeing history as a living subject.
The final conclusions are therefore still tentative. Students are encouraged to comment again on the use of evidence and language of their peers. They are rewarded for engaging in the process of building meaning but within the valid limits of the evidence
Finally students are asked to review the process by which they arrived at their conclusions. This is important as it reinforces all those ideas about how the discipline works. It also provides a touchstone for future work where students can think back to this activity.
In the space of an hour or 90 mins students come to understand the processes which drive the discipline of history in a controlled, focused, historically valid, and crucially interesting way in which their voices and are valued in line with disciplinary rules.
And there are myriad ways to approach this kind of controlled enquiry. @Justice2History ‘s brilliant enquiry which opens with the churches of Lalibela is just as powerful and hits a number of other important concepts about who is part of historical study - see @histassoc TH181.
So to the takeaways:

1) Students can and should understand how history works
2) Teachers we need to have a valid skeleton model of how history works to enable this
3) Students will learn how history work best through active engagement in carefully planned enquiries.
If you enjoyed this thread or found it helpful you should definitely check out @BearWithOneEar ‘s website: which has activities and articles far more detailed and eloquent than I’ve explained here!

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More from @apf102

Sep 17
OK Part 2 of my @1972SHP “things-I-wish-every-new #historyteacher was-taught” thread.

Last time we looked at how new teachers learn. Today I want to think about why we are teaching history at all. /1 Image
Marc Bloch’s “The Historian’s Craft” opens with a child’s question: “Tell me, Daddy. What is the use of history?” It is a question deceptively simple because it requires an exploration of deep truths about what history is and is for. /2 Image
At the age of 4, my own daughter asked me a similar question when I told her I trained history teachers: “Why do they want to teach history, Daddy?” Interestingly, this is the exact way I tend to open my course…by asking that question. Because purposes matter! /3
Read 24 tweets
Sep 8
A new year means 100s of history PGCE / ECT teachers starting prof. journeys.

Our current (& future) ITE system, means many get very limited subject specific input.

This year I’m using a @1972SHP lens to explore the core things I wish every new history teacher knew. 🧵/1
Before we get there I want to begin by thinking about how we learn as professionals, and new professionals especially. It really helps to ensure we are open to growth and less likely to run into potential barriers /2
The first thing to recognise is that professional teaching is a constant process of growth. The teacher we start out as will be substantially different to the one we develop into. Just like Ibn Battuta’s odyssey , it’s a long term journey where we need a curious & open mind /3 Image
Read 19 tweets
Jun 14
So last week my 5yo received the book commemorating the Platinum Jubilee. Govt constantly refers to “balance” in history but v little evident here. Just scratching the surface reveals why history can and should never be presented as a single, simple story. 🧵🪡
I don’t have a big prob w/ people commemorating 70yrs. But this book’s scope is wider than the life of Elizabeth II. It attempts to tell a story of the transformation of the UK from the 1950s to now - this means it carries much greater historical responsibility.
Crucially it is well presented and promises an interesting historical story. My daughter was fascinated. She asked me to read it to her at night. But the more I read, the more context I found myself having to give. My inner annaliste was nervous about the narrative.
Read 24 tweets
Apr 25
The American West has been a core GCSE topic in the UK for decades. But often the way it is taught perpetuates damaging narratives which erase Indigenous voices - much like this US example. Here are some of the things I wish I'd thought more about 16 years ago. A thread... /1 Image
Let's begin with preconceptions. This image comes from an amazing book by Philip Deloria: Indians in Unexpected Places. He shows how such an image reveals many preconceptions which shape how we think about Indigneous presence in North America. /2 Image
My own preconceptions of Native people began young and were shaped by TV westerns. I've spent a whole career unpicking them. Many teachers and students have their own preconceptions as you can see from the survey. It is often an image stuck in the C19th. /3 ImageImage
Read 25 tweets
Dec 9, 2021
Reading another eg of conservative voices in ed suggesting that seeking to diversify history ed, and ensure it better reflects scholarship, is a pursuit of niche interests, at the expense of improving edu for all.

Why this claim is false: a thread /1…
First @rpondiscio classifies the pursuit of “teaching history honestly” - an approach to history which suggests e we need to acknowledge racist and imperial roots in schools - as a “luxury belief”. Something of concern to the woke, young staffers but not the pupils they serve /2
He then goes on to claim that on 15% of 8th graders in the US “are proficient in history”, implying that time would be better spent “teach[ing] history.” The pursuit of a critical approach to a diverse past is suggested as a barrier to learning - a social injustice /3
Read 22 tweets
Sep 17, 2021
So today I read an @Ofstednews report on an ITE partnership which has been judged inadequate. The more I think about it the more annoyed I get. Frustrated at the approach of inspectors. Angry the shortcomings of the CCF/ECF and #ITTMarketReview. Let me explain… 1
I am not disputing the judgment - for which I don’t have the evidence, but the phrasing raises some serious concerns about the thought processes of (often non-ITE specialist) inspectors and their interps of the CCF/ECF. I would have the same concerns had the outcome been good. 2
Let’s take this eg. The implication here is that once trainees have been “taught” something, they should then be expected to apply it in school. This is a very impoverished understanding of trainees and the ways in which they learn - a liner learn->do model 3
Read 21 tweets

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