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Teaching Methods

Persuade and Present

At the heart of good history teaching in schools is debate. History is not a fixed body of knowledge. Rather, it is a discipline that uses source material as evidence to form interpretations. Therefore, students need to learn to present their own views about the past and to learn how to persuade people that their view is worth consideration. They also need to learn in what different ways the past can be presented and how to evaluate attempts to persuade. Presentation must consider audience and purpose. For example, a presentation to entertain children with stories of the past will be different from a presentation designed to spark academic historical debate. Presentation may be in written form, but may also use any other sort of media, for example an exhibition or a film. Historians present history clearly and make explicit their use of evidence in reaching their conclusions. Their purpose is to seek to understand an aspect of the past by applying the discipline of history. Historical detail can also be presented by other people, such as politicians, film-makers and novelists. It can be used for other purposes, such as propaganda, entertainment and to justify actions in the present. Attempts to persuade in history are judged by their use of evidence. Students need to learn to question the evidence base of any historical interpretation. They should learn to expect works of historical scholarship to be well-referenced. They should learn how to make their own use of evidence explicit and to use language so that the degree of uncertainty about their conclusions is clear.

Learning Activities