The Enlightenment

Students can find it helpful to think about the enlightenment in its’ broader historical context.

So creating a timeline with key dates around the classroom can be a good place to start. In terms of key dates, encourage students to think about the dates of events they already know about as this will help them to appreciate the wider social and cultural context of the times. Where gaps appear, use this as an opportunity to find out more about those time periods. Spending time on this is valuable as examiner’s reports frequently comment on students’ lack of awareness of when things happen.

To this timeline, you can then identify ‘premodernity’, ‘modernity’ and ‘postmodernity’ before adding the ‘age of enlightenment’ so that this knowledge hangs onto what they already know. Share this article from the British Library with students and ask them to pick out the key phrases from the text, writing their own definitions (with research as needed):

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