Change and continuity: Analysis

Here are some approaches to help students get better at discussing and analysing change and continuity.

Offer these three categories of change and encourage students to use this language in their analysis:

1. Type

  • What kind of change?

Social, economic, cultural, political, personal...

Positive, negative change

2. Speed
  • What pace of change?

Fast, sudden, rapid, gradual, steady, slow…

3. Extent

  • Change for who?

Large, small, unequal, long-lasting, short-term…

Give students tasks that help them to characterise change​ (‘I want you to focus on ​type​ of change, not ​speed​ of change’; ‘I want you to focus on extent​ of change’. ‘Make me a chart or diagram which distinguishes ​type​, ​speedand ​extent​ of change.'

Personify the language around change ​(Was the change reluctant? eager? energetic? weary? aimless? breathless?) 

Timelines

Make timelines that show change OR continuity:

‘My time­line is going to show ​continuity​ in…’

‘My time­line is going to show ​speed of change​ in…’

Stories

Read or listen to a story with a change or continuity question in mind. (​What were the moments of change/turning points in this story? Find three changes/turning points, mark them in the text and compare them with your neighbour. Where do you agree/disagree? What kind of change happened and for whom?)

Images

Find images from around your city that were taken in the past and compare them to the present. Look for things that are different and things that remain, or are similar.

Interview people

Explore the ​experience​ of change and continuity of people in the past by interviewing an older person and have them record the most important changes they have experienced and how these changes have impacted them.

Change vs Progress

  • Does change always mean progress?
  • When is change the same/not the same as progress?
  • Think about ‘progress for whom?’ 

Use quotes to examine the idea of change and continuity:

‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’ (L.P Hartley)

How can we grow our historical empathy (understanding) for acts that appear so far from our own lived realities?

‘Rather than never repeating, history is fated to repeat, and repeat again, until its lessons are learned.’ (Aroha Harris)

‘History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.’ (Joseph Wittreich) 

These quotes contrast with Hartley's. Like Harris, Wittreich sees continuities, trends, and common forces that link the present with the past. Whereas Hartley stresses the magnitude of change that separates the past from today. Which quote do you prefer? Why?

How to cite this page

'Analysing change and continuity', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/classroom/historical-concepts/change-continuity-analysis, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 26-Jun-2020

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