Enhancing Students’ Understanding of Bi-Polarity in the History Classroom , pp. 5 of 13

Besides being able to sequence events and developments, students would also need to develop an understanding of concurrence – where events and developments could happen in tandem with each other and not necessarily after one another (Blow, Lee and Shemilt, 2004, p. 28). This means that students should be able to see how the linearity of chronological progression is multi-layered. For example, students would need to first understand the relationship between developments in Europe and Southeast Asia in order for them to analyze the implications of the Cold War extending beyond Europe and the ways the bi-polarity of the Cold War tensions affected the political trajectories of nationalist movements in Southeast Asia. To illustrate this, my group mates and I developed an activity which could be used in the classroom to teach the notion of concurrence within chronology during the Cold War, and help students make sense of the linkages between developments in Europe and Southeast Asia.[ii] 

In this activity, teachers will first get students to arrange the events in chronological order on two separate timelines, one for Cold War developments in Europe and the other for developments in Southeast Asia.

Instructions for classroom activity:

  1. On a piece of butcher paper, the teacher will draw two horizontal lines with ample spacing between the line.
  2. The teacher will then make a mark at the start of the line with the year ‘1945’ and another one at the end of the line with the year ‘1950’.
  3. The teacher will divide students into groups of 4s or 5s.
  4. The teacher will then get students to arrange the events from Group 1 in chronological order along the top timeline.
  5. After which, the teacher will get students to arrange the events from Group 2 in chronological order along the bottom timeline, making sure the events are chronologically aligned with the events along the top timeline.
  6. The teacher will then get students to make connections between two sets of events on the top and bottom timeline by drawing lines between them and writing down the explanation.
  7. The teacher could help to prompt students by using clues such as “economic” or “ideological”.
  8. The teacher will then get students to share their responses.

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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