Teaching for Historical Understanding (TfHU): Developing a Discipline-based Curriculum Model at Tanjong Katong Secondary School, pp. 14 of 17

Learning points

There are several learning points that the teachers at TKSS have found based on their involvement in the TfHU project. These can be briefly summarised as follows:

  1. A concept-based approach to teaching history will develop deeper historical understandings. 

The teachers found that history can be taught – and taught well – using disciplinary concepts aimed at developing students’ understandings and knowledge of the past. They found that using historical concepts to teach the content in history offered more useful ways of looking at the past and establish connections in the syllabus content (Nani). The teachers have become more aware of the kinds of misconceptions students may have when trying to make sense of historical knowledge, and are cognizant of the need to work with students’ ideas to promote better ideas and understandings of the past events.

  1. The use of strategic questioning in the classroom is key to building powerful ideas. 

The teachers also found that the infusion of strategic questioning to scaffold students’ learning and making use of students’ existing ideas to develop further understandings are necessary and highly encouraged (Liz) to promote critical pedagogic practice in the history classroom. A clear line of inquiry, using focused or strategic questioning, and having strong facilitation skills are essential if teachers are to scaffold or guide students towards acquiring more sophisticated ideas and understandings in history. An instruction that is focused on engaging students’ preconceptions will also offer teachers the opportunity to monitor, check and test students’ understandings of the concept/event/issue in more effective ways.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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