The Big Picture of History

I went to the British Museum at the weekend. I love it there. A few hours is never enough – unless your girlfriend is wearing stupid shoes and starts to complain.

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Working on a project like TimeMaps really helps me associate the objects with their history. It made me think of a concept Ben Walsh was talking about when we co-presented to the National Council for Social Studies last December in Washington DC.

Ben talked about building the “picture of history” in students’ minds. Not only teaching them chronology, or thematic approaches to history, but creating a visual map of the past as a foundation upon which they can build knowledge and understanding.

By having a clear picture in my head of, say, the Old, Intermediate and New Kingdoms of Egypt, I could understand the influence of Nubia or Mesopotamia on some of the objects on display from different times. I understood more about what was happening in those periods of history so that I knew what the workers/ artists/ Pharoahs were thinking of or reacting to in their lives.

By using the TimeMap of World History, students really do get a visual overview of history. This gives them a visual frame of reference to which they can pin all the different historical facts they pick up. Having the Big Picture allows us to make so much more sense of the smaller pictures

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