Blog: On Teaching History
I took a few History classes for Grade 9 of a school as a volunteer. After receiving positive feedback, I thought I should share my experience. Hope you find them valuable!
1. Create necessity among the students to make them find it easier to pay attention other than just trying to do it for marks. A simple example is showing how what they are studying directly connects to their dreams, loved ones, or whatever it is they find valuable in life.
2. Almost every class attention-wise and “intellectually” has a top 5% and a bottom 40% with the rest in the middle. Aim to task the top 5% who are finding it easy to remember to now try and understand (a.k.a act in ways where the topic taught has implications in daily life) by making them explain the concept to the bottom 40% but in innovative ways. Look to make the explanation not just intellectually challenging but also emotionally engaging. Example — The French Revolution had a section where they talk about the role of women in it. I made all the girls in the class the men in 1793 France and the boys the men and made them debate the pros and cons of giving women political and legal rights. The argument got very heated among two kids which saw them raise many out-of-syllabus points showing a deep commitment to the debate which is exactly what any teacher should ideally want.
3. Remember to make the ideas of the topic, especially in history, more relevant than the facts. Let the homework assigned pertain to facts and have the classes engage with students about the ideas. It’s always easy to get a para read out by a student and then parroted by everyone else. We remember facts because our brain remembers the patterns between them, and the patterns in history are ideas/ideologies.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my points as well as any other suggestion you would have for future classes!