Making history relevant to students by connecting past, present and future: a framework for research
Teaching history usually focuses on understanding the past as an aim in itself. Research shows that many students have difficulty in seeing the point of this and often perceive history as useless, or, even if they think history is useful, do not know very well how to make use of it. Yet history plays a major role in the orientation on present and future. If students fail to see this or do not know how to make use of historical knowledge and skills, the question may arise whether this is due to a lack of explicit attention in history classes on how knowledge about the past can be applied to the present and the future. This article explores two questions: 1) If history is to be more relevant to students, what kind of objectives should play a central role in history teaching? 2) If we want to achieve such goals, what kind of teaching methods or strategies could be feasible? The first question is answered by means of historical and educational theory and philosophy. The second is answered by exploring a number of teaching strategies that have been described in the literature, as well as a small scale experiment conducted by the authors. This article aims at providing a basis for developing meaningful history curricula as well as for research into educational strategies which can be deployed to teach students how to make connections between past, present and future.
Van Straaten, D., Wilschut, A. & Oostdam, R. Making history relevant to students by connecting past, present and future: a framework for research. Submitted to Journal of Curriculum Studies, 11-09-2014.