Why history is more than just 'learning' and 'concepts'...
This is something of a personal blog, one in which I share a recent experience that has resonated with me about how we as teachers create more than just 'lessons' and help children to learn.
My first ever class as an NQT was in Y3. They were a tricky class with a number of 'characters'. However, one my girls was every teacher's dream - able, willing and polite. Our first big topic was the Stone Age to Iron Age. I'd never taught it before and it had just been added to the National Curriculum so it was fresh with few resources. During the first lesson, I was surprised to see the girl looking a bit sullen, so I asked her what the matter was. She told me that she didn't really like history and that she thought that it was 'boring'. I told her that she just hadn't found her history - the topics that excite her and make her want to learn.
We made the topic as fun and as interesting as possible and she became my little project - I had to convince her to think differently. Towards the end of our unit, I asked her again if she liked history. Through gritted teeth and with a wry smile on her face, she told me that she liked history 'a little bit' now. I could tell that I'd succeeded and that she was just trying to save face in front of me.
Last week, on the first day of the new term, at the end of the day, I received a phone call from the school office to say that an old student had come to visit me. She'd travelled half an hour just to come and see me. I met her at the front door with her grandma and I couldn't believe it. I couldn't remember how long ago it had been since I first taught her and what year group she'd be in now, so I asked. She told me she was now 15 and taking her GCSE's. Naturally, I asked what they were and one of the biggest smiles I've ever smiled stretched across my face...history was one of her GCSE's. I asked if she remembered what I'd said to her and she had.
I can't take credit for helping convince her to take history at GCSE, but what that visit did do is remind me that it is our duty to create so much more than 'lessons' and teach 'skills' and 'concepts', but to instil a passion in our children and show them that history can be fun, exciting and worthwhile. We might not know it, but fostering a love of history, for me, is a much bigger and more important part of our jobs. Once we do that, we can teach them anything we like about any period of history and we'll have a much more receptive audience who are willing to learn, eager to listen and desperate for more!