Why a Big History approach to learning is so important!

ALLOWING natural curiosity to flow in the classroom can be a real challenge for teachers following a prescribed curriculum. However, if you can tap into natural learning pathways that have evolved over more than three million years then levels of engagement in the classroom can be transformed....

As part of the What on Earth? offering we regularly provide INSET workshops for schools interested in developing a more interconnected, curiosity-driven strategy for their schools – curiosity being the antidote for boredom.

The workshop begins with an overview of the latest research in neuroscience – the premise being that as educators we need to understand how the brain has evolved to learn if we are to maximise our chances of achieving pupil engagement in the classroom. The seminar then looks at what the evolution of the brain can tell us about the most naturally functional relationship between the left and right hemispheres and suggests strategies for allowing curiosity to flow between subjects using timelines and everyday objects.

Inset Workshop

Making Connections: how craft, visualisation and narrative context promote curiosity-led learning

Christopher Lloyd explores the latest research on neuroscience and how the brain has evolved to learn – valuable for understanding how to address young minds in the classroom. He then discusses the dangers of an over-dependence on learning exclusively through abstractions such as words and numbers before exploring the memory learning techniques of ancient Greece in a world where pens and paper had not yet been invented.

Next, Christopher demonstrates how the curriculum can be integrated using artwork, timelines and a narrative approach to the past. Staff divide into groups and choose an everyday object as a lynchpin around which to construct their own narratives that connect with all parts of the curriculum.

Finally, staff are taken on a whistlestop journey through 13.7 billion years covering every subject in the curriculum using a series of everyday objects. The talk demonstrates how the ‘ordinary’ world around us can be used to tell the most ‘extraordinary’ story of planet, life and people in a way that will engage even the most reluctant learner using no more than the power of natural curiosity.

INSET workshops can be designed around a school’s individual timescales and requirements. Details on request. Duration: from half day to full day (depending on audience / requirements). Suitable for teachers, librarians and learning support assistants of all subjects from Reception level to Key Stage 4 and beyond.


Neuroscience, memory skills, cross-curricular integration, use of timelines, use of everyday objects, use of IT, storytelling, engaging reluctant readers

Key Stage

Suitable for teachers from Reception level to Key Stage 3 and beyond