What’s The Wisdom On... Extended Reading

Teaching History feature

Published: 15th July 2021

What’s The Wisdom On... extended reading?

Why, in a history lesson (or out of a history lesson; let’s say, for a homework perhaps) might we want pupils to read more than a paragraph, to stay with the text, to actually read? We don’t mean plucking facts from information boxes, nor ploughing through four comprehension questions. We mean letting prose do its joined-up work (two, three, four, paragraphs… maybe more?) just to carry pupils along. 

What's the Wisdom On... is a short guide providing new history teachers with an overview of the ‘story so far’ of practice-based professional thinking about a particular aspect of history teaching. It draws on tried and tested approaches arising from teachers with years of experimenting, researching, practising, writing and debating their classroom experience. It therefore synthesises key messages from Teaching History articles, blogs and other publications. The guide includes practical suggestions suitable for any key stage and signposts basic reading essentials for new professionals. See all guides in this series

Proper reading, reading where the prose propels you along, does a special job in affecting us. It builds material in memory and works on our imagination so that we actually want to read on. It is the coherence of prose, its profound internal connections, that affords such rich material to think with. In other words, proper reading works its magic through pleasure.

Proper reading adds value to mere information. It isn’t a collection of facts. It is facts glued with artistry. We rarely read just for ‘information’. We read for narrative, or for argument, or sometimes for mood, tone or texture. 

Proper reading does special jobs in the history curriculum and history classroom. These are jobs peculiar to the practice of history...

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