The Art of Re-constructing the Past: Historical Empathy through Artefact Creation

By Kokila Vani Nagalingam.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper seeks to show the power of artefact creation in the humanities and how teachers
can utilize re-created artefacts to stimulate student discussion and thinking through the re-construction
of the past. By re-creating artefacts through research, enthusiasm and curiosity about the past is
aroused, building up the intellectual capacity of students and the confidence of youths in interpreting
past issues. Irrespective of the approaches selected, students’ learning experiences in history should
develop historical empathy and wider skills of co-operation, communication and problem-solving. The
re-creation of artefacts as historical evidence makes an important contribution in achieving a broad
and balanced understanding of history. Re-creating artefacts can help learners to appreciate the ingenuity
of people in the past by providing valuable opportunities to examine instances of cause, effect,
change and continuity. They will often reflect the needs, circumstances or technologies of their users,
and, over time, the development of related objects that may be traced. Re-creating artefacts can enliven
any period of history. It engages learners in lively, purposeful activity in the classroom and in extensive
exploration of the historical environment as they become the owners of these artefacts, seeking a
greater sense of connection to the past.

Keywords: Historical Empathy, Historical Understanding, Re-constructing, Re-creating the Past, Artefacts

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp.223-234. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.053MB).

Kokila Vani Nagalingam

Acting Subject Head for Character and Citizenship Education, Character and Citizenship Education, Commonwealth Secondary School, Ministry of Education, Singapore, Singapore

I have been a high school teacher for the past 7 years, teaching History and Social Studies with a strong focus on World History and International Affairs. In my line of work, I specialise in implementing elements of character and citizenship education in the humanities curriculum at all levels. As the Head of the Service Learning Department, I oversee and implement projects that reach out to the community at large and foster collaborative efforts between the school and other agencies. I’m interested in leading the Action Research model in the teaching of the humanities and seek to look at alternative assessments in allowing students to see the relevance of the discipline today.


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