2. Investigating a historical event

As well as using oral histories to find out about life in the past, you can use written records with your pupils.

In this section, we look at how different sets of records can help pupils build up their understanding of the past. In Activity 2 and the Key Activity, pupils explore written records of past events and conduct oral interviews with community members. How you organise and gather resources together is part of your role and advice is given on how you might do this.

Case Study 2: Using written records to explore past events

Mr Kaguri is a teacher of a Primary 6 class in Kanungu district, Uganda. The anniversary of Ugandan independence is coming up and he wants his pupils to think about the events that led up to it and some of the things that it led to.

He sends his class to the library where they read up on the events. A daily newspaper, The Monitor, has just published supplements about the granting of independence on 9 October 1962. Mr Kaguri reads from these to his pupils to stimulate their interest. These articles contain profiles of the lives of some of the people who were involved. He divides his class into groups and asks each group to take one of these people and to research and then write a profile of that person on a poster, for display in the school hall. The poster must include how they were involved and what has happened to them since.

Mr Kaguri’s pupils then plan to present their findings to the whole school. Their posters are displayed around the hall and some of the pupils speak at the assembly.

Resource 3: Ugandan independence gives some background information.

Activity 2: Researching an important date in history

This activity is built on a visit to a museum, in this case the Uganda Museum, Kampala, but you could use a more local site or contact the education officer at the UgandaMuseum as there may be materials available to schools where museum visits are not possible. (If it is not possible for you to visit a museum, you could also collect together some newspaper articles, pictures and books to help your pupils find out for themselves about an event.)

Decide on a particular historical event that you wish your pupils to investigate during the visit to the museum (or in class if you have the resources), e.g. Resource 4: The exile of Ugandan Asians – a news report in 1972. It is important that you focus the attention of your pupils on a particular event, especially if they are visiting a museum covering many years of the past.

  • Divide the class into groups, giving each a different issue or aspect of the historical event to focus upon.
  • Discuss what kinds of questions they might need to find the answers to as they read and look at the exhibitions (if at museum) or materials (if in school).

Back in class, ask the pupils in their groups to write up their findings on large posters. Display these in the classroom or school hall for all to see.

1.Gathering oral histories

3. Thinking critically about evidence