Organizing the Subject Matter for Teaching History!
Selection is subject-matter is not enough it has to be organized in some proper way. Without proper organization the purpose will not be achieved.
An effort is made to present the subject-matter, before the children, in such a way that they feel interested in the study of history.
For this purpose the following plans and theories act as guides.
1. The Concrete System of Plan:
In this system the child is first acquainted with those things that are already known to him such things that have a bearing on creative activities of the child. Afterwards the subject-matter is made more comprehensive and organised in accordance with the age and mental capacity of the child. This plan is based on the principle of whole to part. In it the teacher proceeds from simple to complex.
The main criticism against this theory is that it lays too much stress and repeated references to the events, creates impediments in the natural flow of interest of children. This aspect of theory is highlighted by the following quotation:
To develop the time sense of the pupils as the distance in lime between events and characters will not be properly grasped by the pupils owing to the history of some two thousand years being covered in a short time.
2. Periodic Method:
In this method we divide the history into various periods and then these are studied in chronological order. It has been remarked that chronology is the essential skeleton of history and so the whole skeleton is studied in various parts of these periods.
Johnson says, “History for schools had begun as a chronological survey, and when it become a continuous study from year to year of school course, it remained a chronological survey”.
In this method the ground once covered is never repeated. The whole course is divided into several well-marked stages in the pre-independence days. Indian history was divided into Hindu period, Muslim period, British period etc.
Its supports recommend this method on the following grounds:
1. It utilizes the natural order of events and thereby enables the pupils to grasp the idea of ‘time factor’ in history. They can witness the long array of events on the canvass of succeeding generations and in the process, develop a chronological outlook.
2. Another advantage is that during the successive years of school instruction, students are introduced to new periods-periods efflorescent with new problems-and so their interest in the subject is sustained. Every time a fresh ground is covered and, therefore, there is no room for dullness and monotony to set in the process of instruction.
3. Moreover, the syllabus formed on chronological lines accords most naturally with the way in which history itself has developed Limitations. There are certain defects in this theory as well. They are being enumerated below:
(a) It is wrong to say that by this method, we become acquainted with the various stages of the development of the mind.
(b) Events of the ancient history are so difficult and complicated that it is difficult for the students of tender age to follow them.
(c) If the teacher of history is not efficient, and does not prefer to repeat the various facts already taught by him, then the students will find it difficult to remember what they have learnt in the past.
(d) Those students, who leave the studies in-between, do not have any idea about all events of history. Their knowledge of history remains incomplete.
Besides, there are other objections:
1. The critics of the chronological method point out that there is “no principle of selection except that of the order of occurrence of events. There are no themes around which facts are grouped”
2. In such a treatment as Professor Jeffreys pertinently remarks, “it is difficult to give the pupil a sense of purpose or direction. He is not working for anything except for the end of the chapter”.
3. A syllabus based on the chronological order of presentation, remarks Burston, “would only meet pedagogical criteria if the remote periods were simple and elementary, and if history gradually became more difficult as it became more recent. Some might maintain that this was so, but most would argue that all periods have aspects which are too difficult for junior forms and so a chronological syllabus is only possible at the cost of study of some difficult aspects in the early periods”.
4. It allows the development of human history and not the child’s mind to determine the outline at least, what history is taught to pupils at particular age levels.
5. It involves the learning of dates and ultimately forges into drudgery.
3. Topical Method:
In this method the subject matter of history is divided into various topics. It facilitates class-room teaching. This method was introduced by Comenius to overcome the difficulties inherent in chronological method.
While dividing the syllabus into topics we should keep in mind that the whole subject may not be taught in isolation. As remarked by an eminent scholar, “A topic should not be an isolated incident or episode but should present a factor which influence the main current of history”
According to Prof. Walsh, each topic contains several events, but they are logically and intelligently inter-related as being part of the same movement or policy.
(i) This method provides a solution for dealing with vast historical material.
(ii) It can be adopted according to the age, ability and aptitude of the children. This flexibility is significant in case of projects such as about transport, trade, houses etc.
(iii) Study of history through this method imparts a sense of purpose to the pupils.
(iv) It enables the teacher to control the subject matter and adapt it to the varying needs of the children.
(i) It lays more emphasis on social aspect of history at the cost of other aspects of human life.
(ii) In it emphasis is laid on past and present and the past is supposed to provide a background for the development of present institutions and ideas.
4. Regressive Method:
In this method of teaching history we move from present to the past. This is based on the theory that past should be studied as an explanation of the present. We give below an opinion about this method:
The teacher chooses certain vital, social or economical problems of today as a starting point or introduction, goes back to the remote past which has laid this problem or the state of things, again comes back to the period that immediately concerns him and follows the chronological order. Thus, the teacher regresses to come forward again. This plan is based on the mechanism ‘go from the known to the unknown’.
(i) Teaching by this method, we can establish in the mind of the students an essential relationship between the past and the present.
(ii) It inculcates in students an interest in the history of the present.
(iii) It helps in liberalizing the attitude of the children and their activity is enlisted almost at every point.
It lays too much emphasis on the events and problems of present and their background in past and neglects the future.
(a) It reverses the chronological order.
(b) It is psychological.
(c) It is burdensome for the students.
5. The ‘patch’ method
The method which has become quite popular in modern times was given by Miss Majorie Reeves. In this method the teacher does not make any attempt to make his pupils acquire in the school any detailed chronological outline of knowledge, nor does he ask them to go over the same course again and again in successive grades.
He also does not proceed by topics. Instead he chooses short but significant epochs in man’s history such as Tndiainthe Sixth century B.C.’, ‘the Gupta period, ‘the Elizabethan age’ and uses these as the basis of study. The idea is to allow the pupils to “soak themselves in the atmosphere of these periods, finding out of how people lived and earned their living, how they fed themselves, what they wore, what their amusements were, what they believed in, what sort of government they had, and so on.
(1) The advocates of this system claim that the value of historical study in school lies precisely in the process of ‘getting under the skin ‘of a particular age and this system provides opportunity to delve deeply.
(2) Another value claimed for the patch system is that its study gives “practice in that most salutary art, the art of entering into an entirely different atmosphere and point of view of one’s own”, because the patch being studied, may have no obvious or continuous connection with any present day institutions of pre-conceptions.
Despite the above advantages claimed, the opponents of the system point out that it does not provide a comprehensive system of grading historical material. It is bound to leave great gaps in their knowledge and give them a confused picture of chronology.