History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

Teaching Issues

At last…decent enquiry based A Level books

If there is one thing that we stand for here at historyresourcecupboard, it is teaching history through enquiry. After all, the word enquiry itself actually means history. It comes from those clever Greek chaps back in the day.

The problem with most textbooks, particularly at A Level, is that they seem to forget to take this enquiry based approach to learning. Instead the standard fare seems to be a slow but painful death by heavy text and note taking. That is until now.

Hodder have just published the first two books in there new A level series called, Enquiring History: It makes you think! Ian Dawson (of the excellent thinkinghistory website) has written The Wars of the Roses and Chris Culpin has written, The Russian Revolution.

At last, here are two books that take an active approach to learning at A level. I totally approve! They seem to using exactly the same method that Neil and I advocate at GCSE. One which we tried to demonstrate at our opening plenary at the SHP conference earlier this month. #SHP12

Enquiring History have meaningful tasks structured around decent questions. They will help take students to a higher level of understanding and focus on our beloved historical concepts – particularly causation and interpretations. They have a really decent Key Stage 3 feel about them – but pitched at the right level for  your  A Level students – this is a real compliment as I have always felt that a decent enquiry based Key Stage 3 curriculum is far superior to any offerings further up the chain.

I love historical interpretations –  and this is rightly at the heart of the approach. Each text had a academic consultant. A smart person from a decent universitiy (two things that I have struggled with ie being smart and going to a decent university!).  And although this may appear to be a little on the heavy side to some, the nature of the enquiry based approach means that they don’t feel heavy at all. Instead it feels like proper history that is intriguing and fun and could be picked up and read by a 16 or 17 year old.

Being the history geek that I am, I have read half the War of the Roses book myself already – this is a time period that I knew very little about. Luckily Ian has written a free teaches guide to the book which can be downloaded or read on line.

The Russian Revolution book would be a great resource for a A level or for a GCSE teacher who wants to extend the brightest kids they teach. I would have a couple of copies in my resourcecupboard (excuse the pun) and dish them out to the kids who should be in the A and A* league.

Well done SHP and Hodder – I can’t wait for the rest of the series.

For more information visit the SHP or Hodder websites.


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