Exploring pedagogical approaches for connecting the past, the present and the future in history teaching

Dick van Straaten, Arie Wilschut, Ron Oostdam


Using the past to orientate on the present and the future can be seen as one of history’s main contributions to educating future citizens of democratic societies. Because teachers often lack useful methods for pursuing this goal, this study explores three pedagogical approaches that may help them making connections between the past, the present and the future: working with longitudinal lines (LL), with enduring human issues (EHI) and with historical analogies (HA). The efficacy of these approaches was examined in three case studiesconducted in two Dutch secondary schools with eighth- to tenth-grade students (N=135) and their teachers (N=4) as participants. Explorations took place within the boundaries of the existing history curriculum and in close collaboration with the teachers who participated because they felt a need to motivate their students by means of a pedagogy to make history more useful. Findings suggest that implementing the LL- and EHI-approaches in a traditional history curriculum with chronologically ordered topics is more complicated than implementing the HA-approach. The HA-approachappears to have more potential to encourage students to use historical knowledge in present-day contexts than the other two approaches. In terms of students’ appraisals of the relevance of history, the application of the EHI-approach showed positive effects. 


History Instruction; Secondary School Curriculum; Meaningful Learning; Civic Education

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Copyright (c) 2021 Dick van Straaten, Arie Wilschut, Ron Oostdam

Historical Encounters is a double blind peer-reviewed, open access, interdisciplinary journal dedicated to the empirical and theoretical study of historical consciousness, historical cultures, and history education.

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