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Teaching History in the Secondary School: approaches, multiculturalism and writing skills. November 13, 2016

Posted by htamalta in News, Uncategorized.

This book focuses on three basic notions which are extremely important in history teaching.  First of all what approach should a history teacher adopt, that is, what pedagogy or methodology to use.  This decision is fundamental before any teaching can occur.  Long gone are the days when ‘knowing the story’ and ‘telling it’ to a class is sufficient.  Effective history teaching needs a well-trained teacher who is strong both in subject knowledge and in pedagogical subject skills.  Making history accessible to adolescents and developing historical understanding in pupils needs specialised training.  Therefore the first two chapters debate precisely the hazards of certain approaches and the benefits of others.

Similarly to most European countries Malta today is a multicultural society and teaching any subject in such an environment needs a bit of extra thought.  All democratic politicians, educators and consultants exalt the benefits of living in a multicultural society.   However, what can a history teacher do?   Unfortunately we are rich in rhetoric but poor in practical ideas of how to promote multiculturalism in any classroom let alone specifically in history lessons.  So the second part of the book is in fact presenting two personal research attempts (chapter 3 and chapter 4) in the local context to try and find ways how history can foster and stimulate pupils to think about multiculturalism.

Throughout the author’s years  as a history pedagogist she has watched and participated in various wonderful history lessons where pupils were very much engaged in learning, and participated fully in resource rich lessons with tasks focused on interpretation and evidence analysis.  Unfortunately there were several occasions where these same lessons were followed by writing activities and it was here that the pupils floundered.  The work produced by the pupils was not up to standard.  The author tried to solve this anomaly and researched various work on how pupils’ writing can be improved.  Anybody learning and studying history cannot escape from writing in history;  it is part and parcel of the subject.  Inevitably you are going to face occasions where you need to be able to read and understand fairly long complex text and in turn you need to produce written text.   Therefore as their dissertation tutor the author took the opportunity to encourage two of her history teacher trainees to try out various techniques which would hopefully produce better written pupil feedback and better pupil understanding of written text.  The last part of this book (chapter 5 and chapter 6) are two papers  the author wrote, based on the work carried out in these dissertations.  They were successful in both supporting pupils’ writing in history (Rosaline Caruana’s B.Ed Dissertation) and pupils’ understanding of history written text (Kimberly Caruana’s B.Ed Dissertation).

So this book brings together Prof Yosanne Vella’s most recent research in history teaching and while by no means offering permanent solutions it is hoped that this book contributes to the ongoing quest to find the best pedagogy for history teachers to use.

One can download the e-book for free from the link http://euroclio.eu/voice/download-teaching-history-in-the-secondary-school/

This is another book published by the History Teachers’ Association Malta



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