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Engaging Students in Historical Thinking Using Everyday Artefacts

Engaging Students in Historical Thinking Using Everyday Artefacts

Keeping ‘Panchamukhi Shiksha’, the teaching philosophy adopted by Samashti International School as my guiding anchor, I make an endeavour to incorporate as many activities as possible to ensure that my learners not only understand the topic but enjoy the process as well.

With the pandemic induced online classes in vogue at present, this technique has become all the more relevant.

However, embedding an activity into the teaching process is easier said than done. It’s a tight rope walk between maintaining the required enthusiasm and achieving the actual teaching aim.

I pondered every now and then on working out a doable modus-operandi to stimulate the historical thinking of the learners on a daily basis.

Well, one day while preparing tea I just wondered as to how people prepared tea a couple of centuries ago. And viola, this thought germinated in my mind – “why not use everyday artefacts to kindle the historical thinking of the learners?”

I converted this idea into action when I had to explain how emperors of different dynasties of the past adopted this practice of having coins minted to honour their victories or reign.

I asked the learners to get a few coins, with parents’ consent of course for this particular lesson.

I hadn’t actually fathomed the kind of positive effect this activity would have on the learners. The learners were immediately enthusiastic about the lesson. Without me having to explain they could actually go back in time and relate to the social and cultural environment back then.

Here I prodded them to use the time machine (Lesson “Tracing changes through a thousand years”) they had created assisted by the Art teacher, for art is integral to the curriculum. They were also able to comprehend and compare the era back then and the times right now.

This small activity fueled their ever curious mind, and now, relating every artefact, household or otherwise to the past or even the future has become a habit.

I must add that this activity comes bundled with an extra benefit – involvement of parents, friends, siblings, peers etc. From the feedback that I have received from the parents, the ever curious learners continuously enquire about the various artefacts they come across.

Artefacts collected by Samashtians

They want to find out about the artefact genesis, how did people do without it in the past or what alternatives did they have. Having achieved some success in the history lessons, I have now started to incorporate artefacts in the geography lessons too.

This I’ve done in the lesson “Tropical and sub tropical regions” wherein I told the learners to pose as photojournalist and collect different artefacts/fabric and label them according to their areas of origin. This activity significantly helped the children to infer as to how climatic conditions effect the artefacts/fabric made in different regions.

To conclude this blog, I would like to implore upon educators and parents alike to kindle the historical thinking of the young minds with the help of everyday artefacts.