Teaching Students About Enclosure


Enclosure, a pivotal historical event in the transformation of agriculture and land ownership, is an essential topic for students to understand. Teaching about enclosure can stimulate their critical thinking as they explore its impact on society and the subsequent repercussions in today’s world. This article delves into effective strategies, methods, and resources to educate students about enclosure, the changes it brought, and the consequences experienced by those affected by it.

Creating Context: A Brief Overview of Enclosure

Before diving into the subject, provide students with a brief overview of the enclosure. The period dates back to the 16th century in England when landowners began enclosing common lands. Initially done to improve agricultural efficiency and profits, this movement accelerated during the industrial revolution when the focus shifted from an agrarian society to an industrial one.

Enclosure involved fencing off previously communal lands used for agricultural or pastoral means. This consolidation of parcels resulted in higher crop yields but also forced many small-scale farmers out of their livelihoods. As a result, former farmers often migrated to urban areas seeking employment opportunities in the growing industries.

Strategies for Teaching Enclosure

1. Engage students with multimedia resources: Incorporate videos, images, charts, and maps to create a vivid picture of life before and after the enclosure movement.

2. Present case studies: Use specific examples from different regions in England to demonstrate how enclosure affected local populations and altered landscapes.

3. Role-playing activities: Assign students roles as landowners or commoners, encouraging them to debate the merits and drawbacks of enclosing common lands from their assigned perspective.

4. Analyze primary sources: Have students examine letters, diaries, or legislative documents from the enclosure era to foster critical thinking and engage with authentic historical voices.

5. Connect with modern-day issues: Encourage students to consider how topics like land rights, wealth inequality, and displacement continue to be relevant in contemporary societal contexts.


Teaching students about enclosure should not just focus on the historical facts but also allow them to analyze the broader socioeconomic implications. Understanding enclosure equips students with the knowledge and perspective necessary to appreciate and evaluate ongoing discussions related to land rights and social inequality in the modern era. By employing diverse teaching strategies, resources, and activities, educators can deliver a comprehensive lesson on enclosure and foster inquisitive learners ready to explore complex historical events.

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