Teaching KS3 History: Significant world society/issue

Area 7 of the new National Curriculum for history makes it mandatory for schools to teach at least one study of a significant society or issue in world history and its interconnections with other world developments.  For example:

Mughal India 1526-1857;
China’s Qing dynasty 1644-1911;
Changing Russian Empires c.1800-1989;
USA in the 20th Century.

It is really important to note that these are not the only options. You can completely ignore all of them if you wish. This is your chance to make the curriculum more relevant to your students.

Questions to consider

How many of these types of study will you do? Note that it says at least one.

What will you choose? Western or non-Western? Recent or distant? Linked to any other topic, or completely separate?

When will you study this? If you chose India isn’t it best looked at before Area 3 and The Empire? Would you use different time parameters?

Would you do a comparative study: of capitalism and communism in 20th century?

How are you interpreting the term ‘interconnectedness with other world developments’ which is mandatory?

Are you intending to consult students? Many might want to do China, and you could choose to bring it more up-to-date than is suggested here.

In terms of outstanding lessons and smart tasks, these will appear throughout the year principally from schools who have had a ‘dummy run’ at the new curriculum before it is made mandatory in September 2014. If you are thinking of a study of India you might decide to extend the parameters beyond an example soon to be provided to include the 20th Century too. This is the approach taken in a new lesson soon to be uploaded: ‘What does a study of India tell us about Britain and the Empire?’ This ensures that India’s pre-imperial past is given much more significant attention than is often the case and yet still fulfils the idea of interconnectedness.

It will be important not to re-hash some current GCSE topics such as USA and USSR 1900-1950. Although this might mean that the topics are now studied by those not going on to study a Modern World course for GCSE, my experience tells me that these topics need to be thought through afresh for a KS3 audience and need not bear immediate resemblance to a typical GCSE specification.


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