As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate how interesting history can be, I think many people feel the same, having taken little to no interest in the subject at school. In fact, I remember it being one of the most boring lessons going, each session was a chore, an endless list of dates and names that I was sure to forget. Except for Henry VIII, one more year studying him and I may have chopped off my own head! But now I know that this is not the case, history is not only interesting but it’s important, it’s who we are and where we’ve been and we’re all destined to become part of it one day. Students need to be able to take an interest in this so let’s take a look at a few things that can be done in order to engage them on.

Literacy and Media

This might seem like an obvious suggestion but I’m not just talking factual history books and documentaries, I’m actually suggesting you take a look into fiction. “Madness!” I hear you cry, but it’s not as ridiculous as it may seem. Historical fiction books may contain fictional characters or sometimes even events however they often contain real historical figures and proceedings too. Where as straight forward history books are often dry these will cover the emotions that someone may experience in an event, tell us what these people might be thinking and give a better insight into the gravity of a situation. The same can be said for films and TV, select certain scenes to illustrate your points, young minds will appreciate this and hopefully get a clearer understanding of the history through it.

Perform the Past

We tend to learn a lot more when we’re having fun, it presents us with a situation that we actually want to get involved in. Using different creative performance ideas with your class can really help to engage even the most uninterested of students. If you’re talking about a battle why not get a few of your students together and present them as either side of it, have them perform rules of engagement and give them some smack talk to give each other, you’ll have them laughing and learning in no time. Why not have them perform court cases of ancient crimes and punishments? Or mix it up a bit and have a blind date show for Henry VIII? Even I would have enjoyed that one.

Getting Out There

Naturally you can’t go on a field trip for every lesson, but you should certainly look at venturing out when possible. It’s much easier to engage with history when we can see it there in front of us, and don’t just limit it to taking them somewhere and hoping that they get it, teach them on the road, you are their guide. Taking them to museums is a great way to cover a topic or simply head out to a significant sight and tell them things they never knew about that area. All of this will offer a new perspective to them and hopefully stick with them far beyond their next exam.