How to Make History Fun
Many students find the subject of history boring.
Let’s make history fun to learn!
“Mrs. Johnson wants me to cram all these names, dates, and places in my head!” they think. No wonder they have a hard time!
At the beginning of a history lesson, try this: tell a fairly complicated joke but leave most of it out, finishing with a lame flourish. When you hear crickets, tell it again. This time, tell the entire narrative of the joke, along with the uproarious ending. When you hear laughter, you’re ready to teach your history lesson.
Tell your student that they should simply view history as a story or joke. All stories and jokes have five parts: actors, action, a chronological sequence, a causal sequence, and a punch line, significance, or lesson. Because every story or joke has the same five components, most people remember them easily. Think about it this way: when you see a long movie, you have an easy time recounting the plot to your friends afterwards, even if the sequence of events was long and complicated!
You see, our brains are hardwired to remember stories and jokes. For thousands of years, the only way humans learned anything important was by family members or tribal elders passing on elaborate stories. These stories had actors and action, a time sequence, a causal chain of events, and a moral at the end—just like stories today.
If students view history as complex story with many characters, not unlike ourselves, but just living in a different time and place and under different parameters – then it makes sense! History is not a boring timeline of names, dates and places, it’s the story of our world! Once students understand the context of the different stories, such as people’s resources, geographical limitations, unique cultures and religions– they will begin to understand why people in the past did what they did. With this understanding, our students will be able to do more than just memorize facts—they will begin to see history for what it is: the exciting tale of our past that will help us pave the way to the future.
Contributed by Donald S.
Tutor – History, English, Math