Having fun with history…

Anurag Behar of Azim Premji Foundation, has this really nice piece on teaching history.

He points how history can be so exciting is taught properly.  He begins by saying how he did not like history when at school and how it missed telling key events.

And then points to this interesting anecdote on teaching history..

History brings to life the entire range of politics, prejudices and possibilities of education, in a few sentences and moments. So, I was very intrigued when on a dry, warm winter afternoon in Surpur two months ago, the gathered Cluster Resource Persons (CRP) said they wanted to talk about history. CRPs are government school teachers, placed in a role in which they are supposed to provide academic support to a group of 8-12 schools. This system is there across most states in the country. Surpur is in Yadgir district, which figures in all lists of Karnataka’s most disadvantaged districts.

There were 12 CRPs and they had a 90-minute discussion. Most of it would have warmed the hearts of the people gathered at the forum in December 2010. They started by talking about the methods of history, and the importance of different sources of history. They were most intense about the importance of the local history of Surpur, its alternative narratives and how the curriculum actually enables the integration of local history in the classroom, despite it not being available in textbooks. Then they drifted to how geography has shaped Surpur’s history, and the inter-linkages of what are often considered completely distinct subjects in schools. We ended with the discomfort they felt about recent history, because of its politics being still alive. The possibilities in history, which we stunt, seem to be blooming with the 12 CRPs in Surpur. I am confident that the schools they work with will also discover how to wander around in the labyrinths of man through the doors of history.
Learning and teaching history can be an exciting adventure, full of surprises. Instead we often reduce it to a monotonous drill, or worse still, a tool of propaganda. The group at Surpur showed the good that’s possible, with thoughtfulness and use of imagination. But then, all this is true of education overall.
The same is the case for economic history as well. If it is taught well, there is hardly anything more important in economics to study..
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