Some Ideas about Teaching



Teaching History using Analogy


A while ago I was listening to some programme on Radio 4 that was nothing to with History or education, and the speaker was talking about analogy. At one point, he said that you had not learned anything unless you could express it in the form of an analogy.
That thought really fascinated me.

I used it with pupils who were having trouble getting their heads around the Cold War (you can see a developed version at if you are interested). In fact I find I automatically use analogy a lot while teaching - particularly when explaining causation and motivation.

I also worked quite hard for a time trying to use it as a plenary exercise with some of my brighter classes. In this, I failed miserably - either I had utterly failed to teach them properly, or the skill was too 'old' for them, or those topics just didn't lend themselves easily to forming an analogy.

Beyond that, I haven't taken it any further.
Have any forum members gone any further with this?

Do teacher-expounded analogies help the pupils, or do they just further confuse, do you think?
And as for the pupils making up their own analogies, is it just too sophisticated a skill for them?
And can you think of any topics where it might be particularly easy to ask them to do this (I tried a number with HVIII and his wives, dissolution of the monasteries etc., which I thought would be easy, but apparently they weren't)?
And is there any way I could give them clues without giving away the whole game?

Jul 27 2003, 04:42 PM





To cite this page, use:   CLARE, JOHN D. (2003/2006), 'Teaching History using Analogy',  at Greenfield History Site (