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History specialist's advice urgently needed: unsupported teacher's planning woes.

Discussion in 'History' started by jdavies81, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. I'm a primary- trained teacher with a strong interest in history and have recently been appointed as an adult tutor. I'm due to deliver an 8 week course starting September entitled 'The Tudor Dynasty'. I'm excited to offer this course but I've not taught in a classroom for over 2 years since taking a career break to start my family. I've got a great deal of enthusiasm for the period and strong subject knowledge to boot (albeit some brushing up required).

    The problem is that my new employers have provided a unit with learning outcomes and assessment criteria that I must address (with no room for alteration), but I don't see how the unit is appropriate and I need some help to marry these unit details with the teaching of the Tudors. I'm an archaeology graduate, not specifically history, so maybe I'm missing something, but I'm struggling to see how the unit is relevant. I'm ashamed to say I don't fully understand some of the terms used, either, such as 'materialist and idealist' conceptions of history.

    I've spoken to my new employers about my concerns, and have basically been told 'tough'. Can you advise me as to how I could deliver this course using the outcomes and assessment criteria I've been given, and whether or not you find the unit inappropriate, please? I'm feeling a bit daunted by the whole prospect of it now as the unit isn't at all what I was expecting.

    The learning outcomes are:

    1 Understand a range of approaches to the meaning, study and presentation of 'history'
    2 Recognise the role of 'selection' in the study and presentation of history.
    3 Recognise the issues involved in identifying and assessing the role of 'great' individuals.
    4 Understand contrary historical interpretations.

    Assessment Criteria:

    1.1 Identify major concepts used by historians.
    1.2 Describe the investigation of evidence that has survived from the past.
    2.1 Outline a range of sources of historical evidence.
    2.2 Outline the necessities and dangers of "selection" in history.
    3.1 Describe the interaction of 'great' individuals and anonymous mass movements in the making of history.
    4.1 Identify different approaches to studying and classifying the past.
    4.2 Describe the main differences between materialist and idealist conceptions of history.

    If anyone could offer me any advice or support or words of wisdom, I would be so very grateful. I'm beginning to wish I hadn't taken this job.

    Many thanks in advance.
     
  2. I'm a primary- trained teacher with a strong interest in history and have recently been appointed as an adult tutor. I'm due to deliver an 8 week course starting September entitled 'The Tudor Dynasty'. I'm excited to offer this course but I've not taught in a classroom for over 2 years since taking a career break to start my family. I've got a great deal of enthusiasm for the period and strong subject knowledge to boot (albeit some brushing up required).

    The problem is that my new employers have provided a unit with learning outcomes and assessment criteria that I must address (with no room for alteration), but I don't see how the unit is appropriate and I need some help to marry these unit details with the teaching of the Tudors. I'm an archaeology graduate, not specifically history, so maybe I'm missing something, but I'm struggling to see how the unit is relevant. I'm ashamed to say I don't fully understand some of the terms used, either, such as 'materialist and idealist' conceptions of history.

    I've spoken to my new employers about my concerns, and have basically been told 'tough'. Can you advise me as to how I could deliver this course using the outcomes and assessment criteria I've been given, and whether or not you find the unit inappropriate, please? I'm feeling a bit daunted by the whole prospect of it now as the unit isn't at all what I was expecting.

    The learning outcomes are:

    1 Understand a range of approaches to the meaning, study and presentation of 'history'
    2 Recognise the role of 'selection' in the study and presentation of history.
    3 Recognise the issues involved in identifying and assessing the role of 'great' individuals.
    4 Understand contrary historical interpretations.

    Assessment Criteria:

    1.1 Identify major concepts used by historians.
    1.2 Describe the investigation of evidence that has survived from the past.
    2.1 Outline a range of sources of historical evidence.
    2.2 Outline the necessities and dangers of "selection" in history.
    3.1 Describe the interaction of 'great' individuals and anonymous mass movements in the making of history.
    4.1 Identify different approaches to studying and classifying the past.
    4.2 Describe the main differences between materialist and idealist conceptions of history.

    If anyone could offer me any advice or support or words of wisdom, I would be so very grateful. I'm beginning to wish I hadn't taken this job.

    Many thanks in advance.
     
  3. While the outcomes may look a little wordy, they are basically saying that you will be working on developing skills like source analysis, considering interpretations and touching on historiography. I am sure you could bring your archaeological background in and look at archaeological finds/data too. I wouldn't worry too much about it, it should be a really enjoyable unit to teach! Do you have any experience of teaching history in a setting other than primary? If not then I suspect that is what is worrying you. I take it you are doing the planning for how to deliver it? If so it should be easy enough to incorporate the necessary skills based work into it and I am happy to lend a hand. (I am horribly hungover so I may have missed something, in which case I apologise!)
     
  4. I've got the opposite problem, as I'm a history specialist who will be setting up an AS level archaeology course in September. At least there is no coursework to worry about in AS, as while its easy to read up on the literature, the practical side is more daunting. 'Materialist' refers to 'Marxist' inspired interpretations of history (historical materalism), ie that its impersonal economic forces that are responsible for everything (historians don't have to be Marxists themselves to hold this view). I've never come across the term 'idealist' to describe historical interpretations, but from the contrast with 'materialist' this no doubt refers to post-modernist, post-structuralist and 'linguistic turn' interpretations, ie that ideas, what people believed and said and wrote, was the key to everything.
     
  5. Caritas, thank you so much for finding the time to respond to my pleas for help! Your offer to 'lend a hand' is very much appreciated, and I would like to take you up on it. Don't worry - I'm a quick learner! No, I do not have any experience of teaching history in a setting other than primary schools, although it was my subject specialism and always has been a keen interest of mine. Yes, I alone have to do all of the planning and come up with all the resources needed for 8 two-hour sessions with a mixed bunch of fee paying adult learners who may or may not have any kind of prior knowledge of history. There are no particular entry requirements for the course. I'm concerned because I feel there's a lot to fit in to just 16 hours - the whole Tudor Dynasty from the Wars of the Roses to end of E1's reign - AND I've got to do it whilst addressing the criteria for an alternative course and I'm not a historian!

    The outcomes and assessment criteria are for a course entitled 'What is History', and for that course I can see that they are entirely relevant and appropriate, but I think much less so for a specific period, such as the Tudors. Developing skills leaves me with a faint shiver down my back ... I'm going to have to refresh my memory and learn some new things myself first, I think!

    Would you be able to clarify the LOs, please? I've got some questions about them:
    1) What is meant by 'a range of approaches' to the meaning, study and presentation of 'history' (LO1)
    2) What is meant by 'selection' in the study and presentation of history (LO2).
    3) I can think of some 'issues involved in identifying and assessing the role of 'great' individuals, could you briefly give me examples please?
    3) 'Contrary historical interpretations' - would these simply be historians' differing viewpoints?

    With the assessment criteria, would the 'major concepts used by historians' (1.1) be the likes of bias, reliability, usefulness, causation? If not, then what?!? And how could I 'describe the investigation of evidence that has survived from the past' (1.2)?

    I'm peeved that my new employers have so far proven themselves to have a rather unhelpful attitude. I feel quite disheartened at the moment, but with some clarification and guidance, I know I'll be able to make this course a success and enjoy it at the same time! Thank you again for your support here with this. What makes it worse is that I'm not paid for any of the time I spend planning, resource gathering on admin etc, so I think I'm getting a really poor deal.

    I look forward to your response,
    J
     
  6. Hello ArdethBay,
    Firstly, good luck with setting up your archaeology course. If I can be of any help with the archaeology side, I'll do my best. Thank you very much for clarifying 'materialist' and 'idealist' interpretations; I had done some preliminary internet- based research into the meaning of these terms - Marxism I'm familiar with from my own A level days (sociology), but I didn't find anything about 'idealist' interpretations and I don't know yet how to get these different interpretations in to my Tudor course. I'm buoyed slightly by Caritas' assertion that I can address my given unit details whilst covering the Tudor period - could you offer me any guidance with this? I've posted a whole host of questions for Caritas above, would you be able to answer any of them or have any ideas as to how I can link Tudors to the assessment criteria? As my course is accredited with ongoing assessment, I need to make sure my learners have achieved their outcomes and I'm concerned I'll miss something.

    If you could offer any guidance, I would be grateful. Thank you.
    J
     
  7. It sounds like they want you to teach a course on history skills using the Tudors as the source material. If it was me I'd forget about attempting a comprehensive chronological study of the Tudors. Rather each lesson needs to be on a history skill using the Tudors as an example. Eg a lesson on different interpretations, which could focus on the debate over Henry VIII's system of government. Another lesson coudl be on primary picture sources using the propaganda images from Henry VIII, Mary and Elizabeth. Another lesson could be on primary written sources, with contemporaries having different views of the Reformation. Another lesson on secondary written sources, maybe looking at diferent historians' views on Henry VII. Doing it that way would cover both the objectives of teaching the Tudors and the history skills element, but for it to work you have to give up the idea from the start of a comprehensive chronological study of the Tudors. The good thing about this is you don't have to worry about cramming everything in.
     
  8. Hello again ArdethBay!

    I've spent time doing some thinking / reading / researching / brushing up on my knowledge and I've reached the same conclusion as you - I'm going to have to change my original idea of taking a chronological ride through the period and do as you say, 'each lesson needs to be on a history skill using the Tudors as an example'. The adult learners paying for this course are expecting pure Tudors though; the blurb written on my behalf by a certain council bod does not reflect this direct focus on history skills. I would be sympathetic if anyone should comment that the course 'wasn't what they were expecting'. Thank you very much for your examples of lessons, they're a really helpful starting point for me and I'm grateful. Pee'd off I can't do the chronological study, as that's what my audience will be expecting - as I was, to be honest, but I'm confident I can do this, and do it well. By September, anyway! It's only an 8 week, 2 hour per session course - shame it's not funded for longer. Many thanks for your guidance,
    J
     
  9. Let me have a go at answering these in order.

    1) What is meant by 'a range of approaches' to the meaning, study and presentation of 'history' (LO1)?
    Why and how do we study History? Using a range of source material, thinking critically, using material evidence, thinking about what we do with the answers and what kind of question we ask. I think this bit should be fine, it is just about working on skills and being thoughtful, not just bombarding people with info, you will be doing this anyway.
    2) What is meant by 'selection' in the study and presentation of history? (LO2).
    I presume they mean choosing a range of information and materials and using a range of ways to express these. There are a wealth of sources and information for much of the period and lots of ways you can present them to help your students.
    3) I can think of some 'issues involved in identifying and assessing the role of 'great' individuals, could you briefly give me examples please?
    Did Henry VII strengthen England, or was his unwillingness to take risks and move into Europe a negative? Was Henry VII a better king than his son? Thinking about their aims, their ambitions (dynasty vs legacy). The great thing about the tudors is that they were all characters so this part should be quite easy, thinking about the significance of individual monarchs and their advisors. Looking at Wolsey vs Cromwell might be a nice thing for Henry VIII, or the roles of Drake and Raliegh for Elizabeth, it would be great to challenge people about important figures they already konw the names of.
    3) 'Contrary historical interpretations' - would these simply be historians' differing viewpoints? With the assessment criteria, would the 'major concepts used by historians' (1.1) be the likes of bias, reliability, usefulness, causation? If not, then what?!?
    How about differing opinions of the Reformation, or of Thomas More? Or of how effective monarchs were? As a historian you will want to present a range of sources and as we all know, people rarely agree so encouraging a focus on why people don't agree and interpretations will make for a really interesting bit of detective work.
    And how could I 'describe the investigation of evidence that has survived from the past' (1.2)?
    What do we have from the period? Why do we still have a letter from Katherine of Aragon to Henry describing the victory at Flodden? How do we find this evidence? As an Archaeologust I am sure you will be great at this! thinking about what has survived the past and why and how it is important to us.
    Ardeth Bay has given great advice too, theya re looking for you to imporve skills using a traditionally popular period in History. You are asking all the right questions and I am sure you will be a great teacher to those who sign up to the course. Any other questions, or if I haven't made sense just shout! (Sorry for typos, been a very ehctic day).
     
  10. Just been thinking about the chronological idea. I think you probably can give it a go. I am sure you could work on a particular skill for each monarch. You will need to balance the skills with the content, after all, the content is important too. I would think that you could look at interpretations for Henry VIII. You will need, as Ardethbay says, to try not to teach every detail of each reign and I would suggest using overarching questions instead. Choosing a great question for each lesson and answering it will give you an idea is a lot of fun and a big question will allow scope for looking at a lot of different aspects. I like using questions that hook my Year 12 and 13s in when we do the Tudors: 'Was Henry VII a tight fisted Scrooge?' . 'Did Henry's sex drive lead to a split with Rome?'
    Let us take this question:
    'Was Henry VIII a better king than his father?' This can lead you to:
    a) Assess the role of great indivivuals.
    b) Consider what made a great monarch (lots of great sources for this).
    c) Will naturally lead to discussiona bout signficance.
    d) Whether we can give an answer at all with the evidence we have.
    This covers a lot of what you need to do to meet your objectives.
    I teach Henry VII and Henry VIII to my Y12s and am more than willing to share materials with you. I have some great powerpoints (if I say so myself) with a lot of sources/questions on. Also, feel free to PM me if you wish.

     
  11. Caritas,

    I've been bowled over by your kindness. Thank you for taking the time to be so supportive and encouraging, I really appreciate your responses and for not making me feel like an imbecile! I want to due justice both to the subject and to my learners, whomever they may be. You've given me a great deal to consider, especially with the answering questions approach, and thank you for your offer to share materials - I would gladly welcome any relevant resources that you don't mind sharing and if, in turn, I have something that might be of interest to you I would gladly share that too! I may well PM you as you've suggested once I've had a chance to sit down and begin planning, if anything, just to have you cast an eye over it - doing something for the first time is hardest, after all. If this course proves to be a success, part of it will be down to you,

    Very appreciative,
    J
     
  12. Glad to be able to help! You are absolutely right about doing something for the first time being the hardest. I would be quite happy to cast an eye over things for you. Anything else you need just shout, if you PM me your e-mail I will mail over my resources for the 2 Henrys. :)
     

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