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History Teaching: A total disgrace?

Discussion in 'History' started by MarkJH, Dec 31, 2010.

  1. MarkJH

    MarkJH New commenter

    Ferguson did acknowledge the difficulties of trying to teach a coherent History course given the pressures of time at the end of the piece but Tariq Ali didn't have the faintest idea what he was talking about. A pity that Colin Firth and/or the 'Today' producers didn't think of actually inviting a school History teacher to contribute rather than have two academics pontificate from their ivory towers.
  2. I think you are spot on Mark,
    I can only do so much with an hour a week. That's what the issue is, not the history teachers!
    i would love to teach all the stuff they were discussing, but i cant! and i have to focus on what examiners have on their specs anyway!

  3. I suppose at least one of them did admit that they were not really in a position to comment on the challenges faced by History teachers in today's schools.
    I have taught History for six years in an inner city comprehensive, watching the time available to me getting whittled away, so much so that in year 7 no History is taught at all, leaving two years to do the "Plato to Nato" curriculum!
    I was made redundant in September, when the school became an academy. History is now allocated 2.5 teachers, from 4. Years 8 and 9 now have one hour a week of History. How are we meant to teach anything in such a miniscule amount of time? But then academies are clearly a good idea...aren't they?
    Schools are so focused on English, Maths and Science at the expense of other subjects that we are in grave danger of seeing History, Geography and Religious Studies amalgamated as Humanities for one hour a week. How are we supposed to teach any real History then?
    I believe it was Plinny who said "If we do not know our History we will remain forever children". Well as long as 35% achieve A-C in English, Maths and Science it obviously matters not that they know nothing of the World!!

  4. Niall Ferguson was eager to answer the criticisms of his own work, but as others have said, there were no actual KS1-4 History teachers present at the meeting to defend the accusations levelled at them. As Ferguson is not present at this, let's take him to task. He had no concrete answer to Tariq Ali's concern that the devil is in the detail and much would depend on who was on the working parties to decide on the core content that makes up the narrative. Who decided on the original NC History document that the Roman Empire had to be included? Who decided, at the draft stage, to call the 19thC unit "The British Empire at its Zenith" (which I'm sure Niall would love as that is the theme of his own perspective on History), before back-tracking under pressure from the Historical Association and teachers before calling it, "Expansion, Trade and industry 1750-1900"? If Tariq Ali and his colleagues had written that unit of work it would perhaps be called, "Expansion, Slavery and Struggle for Freedom". Edward Thompson may have just called it, "The Making of the English Working Class" - the historiography of that period matters. Who decided on the original National Curriculum that History stopped circa 1960 with increasing affluence etc? These are political questions that matter. If those working parties are not broad-based and ideologically diverse, then the end result will be all the more partial and contentious. As a Head of Humanities, it's actually good to see History and Geography getting some attention again - under New Labour, they were abandoned and curriculum time and staffing was under attack. Our own 'take' on History delivery is that we have kept it as a discrete subject in Y8-9 (we lost Y7 to a 'learning to learn'/Opening Minds approach...though that may now change again). However, we did teach thematically, so when History was exploring rich and poor in Tudor times in Y8, Geography was comparing an LEDC/MEDC, RE was looking at homelessness and Christian Aid and Citizenship was exploring Local Council Spending etc. Anyway, I'm bored with England and its ludicrous and unhealthy (for staff and students) emphasis on measuring and quantifying everything, setting constant targets and still achieving nothing more than middle ranking on OECD tests. "Brave helpless soldiers, blundering, obstinate generals...nothing achieved" AJP Taylor talking about the implementation of History in the National Curriculum since 1988...or was that the First World War?
  5. Correct. Ferguson and Ali agreed on the importance of history as a subject and, whilst critical of the current syllabus were not blaming history teachers.

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