history.....how can we make it interestingI really need tips and tricks as to how to make history interesting. It turns so dull and boring and so difficult to learn things up because the interest...

history.....how can we make it interesting

I really need tips and tricks as to how to make history interesting. It turns so dull and boring and so difficult to learn things up because the interest lacks :(

Asked on by kittmanch

14 Answers | Add Yours

lentzk's profile pic

Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

It also always helps to bring in the human interest element to help students understand the perspective of people back then, like if you are studying a major world event (like the bombing of Pearl Harbor) have the students read some eye witness accounts, or even smaller details like hygiene to catch their attention.  I know my students always loved about hearing how dirty and stinky things were back in the day.

shake99's profile pic

shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Students certainly do complain that history is boring quite often. I usually found it to be at least somewhat interesting.

One way to increase the interest level would be to show how history affects us today. Most students feel that learning history is actually pointless. An exceptional teacher can tell his/her students how historical events impact their own lives today.

larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

If you are able to add anecdotes about people during that time period, particularly famous people, you might humanize them and thereby keep your students more interesting. This technique has always worked for me. I have told them that George Washington was a serious minded man who didn't tell jokes or shake hands. There are many stories about Abraham Lincoln that show him as a human being. If can show that these were real people with real attributes and at times real human failings, you can keep your students intrigued. They will be waiting to hear the next tale!

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The second response, for me, is the key to making history interesting.  It's about the narrative.  I like to include stories, novels, and poems to create a jumping off point for any era.  There must be characters and feelings for students to be engaged.  This can be flipped, as well, having students write stories and poems about an era, from the perspective of someone in that era, an ordinary person or a great leader.  I have the advantage of having taught English and social studies, so it's easy for me to find literary texts, but frequent consultation with someone from your English department will yield many good text choices. 

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The MOST EFFECTIVE trick to teach history is to do correlations. For example, my students had no clue that there was a connection between "Mad" King George, George Washington and Marie Antoinette: They all had a role in the American Revolution! Or that Oscar Wilde, Abraham Lincoln and Queen Victoria, at one point, must have read the same newspaper, each from the comfort of their favorite restaurant, White House, or castle.

These correlations not only help them make more connections, but also denote your own universal and general knowledge about history. History cannot be taught isolation; it would be a crime to our intellect and creativity!

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Teaching history as a discipline and a way of thinking rather than simply a series of things to be memorized is one way to go about it. Students ought to be introduced to the fact that different historians have interpreted events in different ways. They should be encouraged to investigate these interpretations and above all, to use primary source documents. I am aware, after teaching history my whole adult life, how difficult this can be, and sometimes, as pohnpei says, we just have to bite the bullet and plow through material. But I think that an emphasis on the skills of history, rather than simply the facts of history makes it more alive for students. I also think, again to cite pohnpei, that encouraging students to empathize with historical people is an extremely important skill that ought to be emphasized.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

However, there are lots of aspects of history that can't be made personal or connected in any meaningful way to the present day.  So you're just going to have to deal with the fact that some students will find some lessons dull.  What I try to do is to get them to think about the historical people as real people.  I try to frame my lessons in such a way as to get students to think "why would people react like this in a given situation?"  Or, "if this happened in my life, how would I be likely to deal with it?"  But again, you'll never reach everyone and some lessons will seem dull to some students.

 

lentzk's profile pic

Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree that you have to connect the events of the past to current day events to make them relevant.  How did an event in history make an impact on the modern world?  How did an invention transform the world into something new?  How did this person help change our beliefs and actions?  If you can focus on these types of questions, even when you are building background, you students will find things much more interesting.

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

History can easily be dry when it becomes all about dates and people that we feel no connection to. In order for history to be interesting, we have to be able to relate to it. Looking at events on a larger scale and asking students to imagine this type of thing happening in their own life can be helpful. Finding some way to relate the information to students can also be helpful. For instance, I always found the study of WWII boring until I saw the movie Pearl Harbor. The story was about a nurse and I realized that this is exactly what my grandmother lived through as a nurse during the war. Suddenly I understood her so much better and I cared about history so much more. In order for any subject to be interesting, we must relate to it and teachers must vary the presentation of the material. 

musicmadab's profile pic

musicmadab | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

As a student, I find that, the deeper and wider my understanding of something, the more willing and excited I am to contribute. However, with most subjects, it depends on the audience. Although it's true that many people do in fact learn better whilst studying independently, the best way to first introduce new information, in my personal experience, is to use a kinaesthetic strategy- this way the brain is engaged and open to analysing and thinking about the new material being given to them. History is a great subject for kinesthetics, as- with it's ever-growing bank of subjects- has almost endless opportunity for activity. Role play, profile building on historical characters, discussions, debates and interactive timelines are all great ways to encourage involvement. It's all about trial and error; testing to see which techniques engage your class more, but also being careful not to use that same technique all too often- I like ice cream, but not 5 bowls a day. In terms of handling the content of a subject, I think it is a good idea to provide a broad summary of the subject, noting the topics, times, dates and significant changes. However, at any advanced level- as you probably know- isn't enough and it's important to discuss causes, short and long term effects, with each smaller subject in detail. Both the detail and the summary are equally important though.
truthseekah's profile pic

truthseekah | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

So much of history is written by the 'victors' and the probablility for censorship and propaganda are quite high.  I find it incredibly interesting to get alternative views on historical events to provide a more well rounded perspective.  While hidden agendas may be hard to decipher, there is a lot one can see with open eyes.

A lot of history is taught with mundane dates and 'facts' in such a narrow view that it makes it hard to understand what an individual or group might have been thinking. I agree with others here in that making the experience personal is effective to peak your interest. Regurgitating mindless events, dates and facts is a poor way to present history, in my opinion.

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