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How do you enthuse the unenthusiastic?

Discussion in 'History' started by chlsmrd, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. Hi all,

    I'm currently finishing my History Ba with a view to do my secondary PGCE next September. i know i'm perhaps a bit early in thinking about this but how do you get your children enthusiastic about learning history especially those of lower ability?

    My personal experience of history in year 7 and 8 was not amazing; my teacher seemed to have lost her drive and made learning history a rather boring affair. It was not until year 9 that a new teacher arrived and he seemed to make history capture my imagination to the degree that i have never left the subject since.

    My question is how do you cope with the kids that are uninterested? In particular those in the lower years who have to do history rather than the older ones who have made the decision to study it at GCSE?

    All input would be greatly appreciated!

  2. annajordan

    annajordan New commenter

    Hi Chelsey
    It sounds trite, and implausible, possibly, but children in Y7 will generally respond with huge enthusiasm to anything - they are only turned off by boring lessons. So the challenge is more maintaining that enthusiasm rather than kickstarting it. If you plan your lessons thoroughly, with interesting, engaging activities, rather than 'turn to page 69 and answer questions 1-3, and you yourself are passionate about what you're doing, disengagement will be minimised. Differentiation can be a really big deal in History, as one of your challenges is that it is conceptually quite tricky from the start. Thought given to introducing children to thinking like historians, without pushing them into mental contortions which are beyond them will pay dividends - a simple example: if there is a disagreement between students, or in sport, use that as an opportunity to think about interpretation - why do people see things in different ways. Making it real, rather than expecting kids to be able to jump straight in to abstract thinking about dead people's motivations can make a real difference :)
    As regards the difference between GCSE and KS3, I've always found it far easier to enthuse KS3 classes, because I've been able to plan and teach SOW which are interesting and relevant to the world, whereas the GCSE curriculum is set in stone, is massive compared to the time available to teach it (if you want students to think rather than receive knowledge! :) ) and isn't really very exciting (plus - you may have picked up - you can get quite stale teaching the same GCSE curriculum year on year and have to work hard to remember that it is the first time for the kids).So, the 'buy in' you gain from students having chosen it, you still have to work at maintaining.
    Best starting points for now:
    Teaching History, published by the Historical Association, would be worth reading to get your head around some of the current issues and to give you some great ideas for lessons.
    Browse TES resources and see what teachers are downloading and rating; this will help you see what students enjoy.
    Enjoy - good luck!

  3. dhartley25

    dhartley25 New commenter

    Hi Chelsey
    Totally agree with above. In KS3 you could make it more exciting by having interesting enquiry questions to hook them on a particular subject/topic, e.g Why did the world nearly end in 1962? (Cuban Missile Crisis) etc.
    Also try and vary your activities so that you incoporate some drama (role play), writing and visual tasks in the lessons. A good website to help is thinkinghistory.co.uk which also has some superb guides for new teachers on the curriculum and history teaching.
    Browse the History section on this site as there are loads of activities, lesson plans and guides already uploaded by teachers.
  4. Mrs_Frog

    Mrs_Frog New commenter

    When I completed my PGCE, the course tutor mentioned a few times that sex, death and toilets were good starting points....
    MF x
  5. Hi Chelsey
    You may be interested in our new, free of charge Thinking Film, Thinking History resource aimed at 13+. At Film Education, we believe that the power of film, when used as a pedagogical tool, can enthuse and engage some of the most reluctant learners.
    If you would like a copy, drop us an email at secondary@filmeducation.org
    Film Ed team


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