History in the classroom

tina_jancar

Tina Jančar

“People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.” (Edmund Burke 1729-1797)

Summary

The aim of this article is to give you a few reasons why local history is important to learn, study and be aware of. History provides context for everything that we see around us today, and the key to understanding the world we find ourselves in now is to see how I came to be.

Keywords: history, hometown, study, cultural and historical monuments.

Introduction

Before I even begin, let us ask ourselves, what does history even mean. Well, according to the dictionary definition, history is the study of past events, more specifically connected to human affairs. Academically, history is an umbrella term that encompasses different fields of study.

History

History is an important and interesting field of study because it grounds every one of us in our roots. Ethnic, national and cultural identity are all very real subjects, and studying the history of our home towns, nationality and related regions can give us a deeper, more meaningful glimpse into our ancestral pasts, and how we got to where we are today. Studying history can also give us insight into why our culture does certain things, and how the past has shaped it into what we know now. This relates directly to our next reason why history is important. (Udemy Editor, February 2020)

Local history teaches us about the human condition

Local history is the study of history in a local context, often concentrating on events that affected a local community: people or places of a particular village or town. No matter how different you are, you have a shared history in the city that you live in. As we learn about people or places that were important years ago in our town or city, we realize that those residents reared children. As we learn about these shared experiences, one can often visit preserved historical landmarks within a city. These preserved landmarks serve as sources for first-hand accounts of the people who experienced life in the community – decades or centuries earlier.

In the classroom

Local history comes alive in a classroom. When students are able to read, visit a historical place, look at an artefact, appreciate images or study real documents and that is how we create connections.

In the classroom teacher could start introducing students to their home-town history since first class. Studying local history is essential for knowing and understanding past life of a country, continent or the world. Being aware of the surrounding means, students are trying to understand events and society in the past; changes and their reasons and consequences, people and their needs, especially conflicts and rules in the society. With studying local history students are trying to find connection with the area they live in, they are getting knowledge about their home place, and they become more sensitive to social changes. Therefore they get included easier in their social environment and are able to cooperate in it.

All local content should be included in all primary school subjects, especially history. Students can study the past and present of their home town, they could have an access to different resources and they can include themselves in different school projects or personal school researches.

In primary school curriculums that include content of history of own town are obligatory in following subjects: learning about the environment, society, history, geography, music and citizenship education and ethics.

Research

I did a short research how well students knew their home-town historical and cultural monuments. Research involved 36 students of fourth and fifth grade of nine-year primary school.

All fourth and fifth graders knew the crest of their home town. I predicted they knew this because their crest can be found all over town including the entrance of the school.

The next question was about the meaning of the signs inside the crest. 69 % of students knew that there is a bridge, 50 % of them knew about the grapes sign, but only 44 % said, there is also a river. Reason students do not know the meaning of cultural and historical monuments in the crest most likely means that they never paid attention what their crest represents or they simply forgot what was presented on it. (Picture1: A home-town’s crest)

Two famous people were born in their hometown but only 48 % of students knew about one and 35 % students knew about the other one. (Picture2: A home-town’s monument)

Last question was about their cultural and historical monuments. 63 % of students recognised both of them (the church and the stone). Just the church was recognised by 35 % of students and the stone by 65 % of students. (Picture3: The stone) (Picture4: The church)

My conclusion is that at least half of the students know the basic historical and cultural monuments of their home town.

Conclusion

Researching the past is one big learning curve. When we discover something new, we open again some new undiscovered territories. In my opinion schools should commit more about teaching children of their roots and history of place they come from.

Literature

  1. Udemy Editor (2020, February). Why is History Important? An Overview For the Reluctant Learner. https://blog.udemy.com/why-is-history-important/