Making history relevant to students by connecting past, present and future: a framework for research

Abstract
History teaching usually focuses on understanding the past as an aim in itself. Research shows that many students don’t see the point of this and perceive history as not very useful. Yet history plays a major role in the orientation on present and future. If students fail to see this, the question arises whether this is due to a lack of explicit attention in history classes on the application of knowledge about the past to the present and the future. This article explores two questions: (1) If history is to be more relevant to students, what kind of objectives should play a central role in history teaching? (2) What kinds of teaching strategies align with these objectives in history teaching? The first question is answered by means of historical and educational theory. The second is answered by exploring a number of teaching strategies that have been described in the literature, as well as a small-scale experiment conducted by the authors. This article aims at providing a basis for developing meaningful history curricula as well as for research into educational strategies which can be deployed to teach students how to make connections between past, present and future.