Active Learning on

Approach 6 – Using family history to create
an overview of the 20th century

Download the attachment – Dad's 20th Century Lifetime [ click here ]

Dad, the cricketerSurveying a whole century it can be hard to keep a sense of individual people – they get lost in the changing events, perhaps especially in the 1900s when World Wars, the Cold War and other events seem to be on such an inhuman scale. One way to introduce the patterns of the 20th century is to do so by telling the story of an individual whose lifetime covers most of the century. Chris Culpin did this very well in his KS3 book The Twentieth Century through Mollie Simpson’s Century – not just wars but first experiences of cinema, television, trips abroad and political demonstrations.

Dad’s film star pose!I wrote a similar outline of the 1900s some time ago around my father’s life (1913-1993) – see attachment – but as this was for a GCSE book for Modern World courses it has a narrower focus, more war, less social change. What I’d really like to do is create a resource with a voiceover and family pictures from the late 1800s to today to help students see the shape of this period – first experiences of x, which great events affected lives, could such and such a situation develop today, when was y changing fastest, which one event would you pick out from each decade?

If you have the family resources this could be a very intriguing and personal way to introduce the 20th century, improving students’ motivation because the unfolding story is that of the teacher in front of them.

BACK to START                        NEXT APPROACH



Using Family Histories

Using Family Histories

  1: Generations

  2: Migration

  3: Sense of Period

  4: Industrial Revolution

  5: Changes in Everyday Life

  6: Overview of 20th Century

  7: Outbreak of WW2

  8: GCSE Medicine


The entire article (PDF)

My mother’s 1930s (PDF)

Dad’s 20th Century Lifetime (PDF)

My mother’s Wartime (PDF)

What do we owe our lives to? (PDF)