History and KB: The Perfect Combination

Without History, we will cease to exist.

Commonly held by people, History is but a matter of knowing the factual information of the past. Indeed, this is part of history.  However, it would be a pity should one grow up with this notion in mind. History would have lost its purpose, meaning and significance. This is simply because history transcends beyond this mere boundary. 

As a practitioner who believes that history must be taught as a discipline, it is vital that my students see the necessity and beauty of History. Beyond having knowledge of historical content, I would hope that my students will come to the realization that history is the force that forms their core identity, the ground that establishes their underlying beliefs and most importantly of all, the catalyst that prepares them well for their future. 

Knowledge Building—and its technological tool Knowledge Forum—lends itself well in helping me to create history lessons that align to the above vision and philosophy which I held dear to. Through its scaffolds and principles-based approach, history lessons become one that embraces diversity of viewpoints, empowers empathetic and inventive thinking and not forgetting enhancing students’ collaborative and cooperative learning experiences. 

How then do I design my history lessons with the use of Knowledge Building? 

Briefly, there are 3 main areas that I will pay great attention to. First, students’ ideas will always be placed at the forefront of the lessons, exactly like how a historian starts his investigation. This meant that there is democratization of knowledge where lessons will run according to students’ questions, interests, curiosities and sometimes even on the personal experiences of the students.  Following closely to that is the element of build-on where participants would provide new information and/or other perspectives to the inquiry questions or ideas to broaden ones’ understanding and perhaps sometimes, to clear possible misconceptions to these issues. Last but not least, just like any piece of historical work, students will need to consolidate and develop an enhanced theoretical understanding through the incorporation of considerations raised by others. Besides training them to be historians-in-practice, wouldn’t this form of history education prepare them well with the competencies ready for the 21st century workforce? 

Just like how I have used Knowledge Building as the framework and pedagogy for my history lessons, my colleagues and myself are constantly being Knowledge Builders too so that we can further enhance on the teaching and learning of History in our classrooms! 

Eds: Melvin received the Outstanding Youth in Education Award. Learn how he uses K-pop to teach students about World War II here.