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Is it time we pushed for compulsory History?

Discussion in 'History' started by BRENHELL, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. God NO! Who wants 10.6 on Friday afternooon? Hideous....
  2. oldskool71

    oldskool71 New commenter

    No! Some students prefer to take vocational courses and if forced to study something they don't want to would react by behving very badly
  3. Morninglover

    Morninglover Lead commenter

    I understand only countries in Europe where one can give up History before 16 are us & Albania...
  4. Absolutely not!!
    History is an important subject! But is it more important than Geography, Music, ICT or Art? Put simply no it is not.
    The Ebacc is a poor model to base student's achievement at the end of KS4. How dare ministers such as Michael Gove tell the teaching profession what subjects are more important than others.
    Many students will not have the opportunity to study GCSE Art, Music, Drama, ICT etc. because they do not form part of the Ebacc. I don't care what people say, many schools will incentivise subject options to improve league table results. In addition, if universities decide to have an entry requirement of the Ebacc + Alevels then students who have not achieved this will miss out.
    I believe we should keep things simple. Students should study GCSE Maths, English and Science. In addition students should study PE, ICT, PSHCE and RE at KS4 but not necessarily study them at GCSE level. This would then leave ample time in the timetable for students at KS4 to study 3-4 subjects of their choice.
  5. AdmiralNelson

    AdmiralNelson New commenter

    Why do most other countries think History is too important to drop before 16 or even 18 then?
  6. It's not compulsory in the Republic of Ireland at secondary level either, although usually students do study it until Junior Certificate (GCSE level) or at least have the option to chose between it and Geography. As far as I know it's not a stand alone subject in Primary school there either.
  7. AdmiralNelson

    AdmiralNelson New commenter

    Sounds like a form of academic apartheid to me...
  8. Don't be so ridiculous. If you can't contribute with something meaningful or sensible then do not bother.
    If your comment is serious then explain why and how......otherwise just don't bother.
  9. AdmiralNelson

    AdmiralNelson New commenter

    Sorry - I assumed I speaking to the educated & intelligent here - but as I'm clearly not:
    You said:
    We need a curriculum that will be of value to students in this country! History is immensely valuable....but maybe not for 100% of 16 year olds.

    If a subject is 'immensley valuable' then all students need to study it, as those who don't will be unable to compete with the rest. That sonds remarkable similar to apartheid - which means 'separation' - but based on education not skin colour...

    Would have thought anyone with half a brain could get that point first time, tbh
  10. Right well this is the end of this debate then.
    I know what you meant by 'academic apartheid' but being a university lecturer training student teachers (2 days a week) I am far more used to people backing up arguments instead of just giving one sentence comments.
    This thread sounded interesting because as I am sure you are aware the education system at the moment is going through a massive change and we may see subjects such as History and MFL compulsory to the age of 16. I was genuinely interested in your responses but all you seem to want to do is to cause trouble by being rude and argumentative (there is a difference between arguing and debating!)
    I never ONCE said that the more 'academically able' students should study History whereas the less able should study something more 'suited' towards them. What I was suggesting was students who were more creative and wanted to study more creative subjects should not be forced to study History.
  11. I teach in British Columbia, Canada. Our curriculum expects that students will take Social Studies, which includes a combination of history, geography, economics, comparative religions etc. The regular curriculum ends in grade 11 when students are about 16-17. In some schools students can choose a focus for their final course. The ordinary curriculum's focus is on Canada's involvement in the two world wars and general European history, modern Canadian history and the effects of world issues as well as mostly economic geography. Similar topics can be taken with a First Nations focus or Pacific Rim focus. After that they can drop socials or choose from a variety of specialty courses such as, history, geography, psychology, philosophy and world civilizations. Most students choose one of these courses. Social Studies is included as one of the four core course: English, math, science, socials. Only English is required until the final grade 12 year. Students are required to write final school leaving exams in Socials after grade 11 and English after grade 12.
    As you will notice history etc. are thought to be very important. If you think of the social sciences as the base knowledge for citizens engaged in a constitutional democracy like ours you will understand why.
    By the way, we often hear about Finland! Since British Columbia compares very favourably it's usually with some puffed chests:) We need to remember that all teachers in Finland must have a masters degree and that they get paid very well because the education of children is invaluable. I've heard that their class sizes are in the low 20s (our max. is 32!) and that teachers get time every day to prepare for classes and to evaluate their students. We have 5 class periods within two weeks except in semestered schools where teachers get a class period every day for half of the year and no time fin the other. I tend too think that all of this information is important if comparisons are made. Teachers want their students to be successful so find it useful to know how the most successful systems work. This would include pedagogical methods, but also teaching conditions. It is impossible to compare success without looking at all the issues.
    I think comparison between systems can be very useful, but not competition (ie."debates")
  12. Gove is already planning to make History compulsory to16. It's expected to come in as part of the National Curriculum changes m 2014.
  13. The model for much of Europe (and it seems
    Canada) is that politicians ‘push’ for History. Given a choice, an independent Scotland might decide to go the same way.
    The rationale is that, if
    schools are going to produce worthwhile citizens, it is axiomatic that they –
    and that means the whole cohort of each year – need to know about and identify
    with the nation’s mythic experience.

    That’s not just true of History – the expectation
    is that the national dimension will be reflected in knowledge of the nation’s Language,
    Literature, Geography and even its nationals’ contribution to Science.

    There is a lot to be said for these
    un-British ideas and students generally knuckle down to an unarguable national programme
    (so the average continental student vastly out-performs the Brits when it comes
    to Maths). They can often recite great lumps of national literature (and
    usually know Shakespeare a sight better than 10.6 ever will). And they use their
    native language accurately (while their English often beats 10.6).

    Catch is, if we go down this road, the
    expectation is that there will be a factual core, clear and specific, and not too
    much of the sources, analysis and empathy nonsense. And, you don’t let people teach the nation’s secondary children without a decent, four-year subject
    degree, followed by work at master’s level.

    So, yes, a decent place for History in a
    national curriculum to 16+ (at least) but where on earth would you find enough
    competent teachers?
  14. Should history become compulsory to the age of 16?

    Yes, but I have reservations. I am concerned that the move is towards a fact based curriculum that provides a grand narrative of British history. Unfortunately, this knowledge though interesting is of limited utility in the 21st century.

    Far better to build a history course that builds conceptual understanding of the subject through global case studies. This approach would also build in the required skills of document analysis, historiography, research skills. It is also necessary to move away from the teacher as 'keeper of knowledge'. A student centred approach will encourage more exploration of lesser known topics and subsequently a richer variety of knowledge. With careful planning this approach would also build chronological understanding of key global issues (civilization, conflict, industrialization, empire, revolutions, ideas, human rights, globalization, terrorism, science and technology etc). A less ethno-centric approach is needed.

    I do think's Gove move towards more local history is great though. However the level of inspiration here will vary based on where you live. Local history lessons would be fantastic if you live in Bath, York etc. Might be a little dull in Milton Keynes or Widnes.
  15. AdmiralNelson

    AdmiralNelson New commenter

    Unless pupils come from very local places (to the school), they may have little interest in the local history offered because their village/town is different...
  16. It is possible for any pupil to live a long and happy life and participate in civic society without ever finding historiography (of all the unlikely things) a "required" skill.
    If teachers want History to be required of each and every pupil, and to persuade a Conservative government to require it, it will help to be realistic.
    Our national story will sell. A fact-based curriculum can be delivered and tested. An English-centred curriculum has some hope of improving the linguistic skills of native-speakers and speakers of other languages alike. I could even believe that, given support, many teachers could deliver English local history
    What will never sell to either the broad masses or political leaders is stuff and nonsense about global issue, human rights and revolution. Those who like that facile sort of thing will find that that is the sort of thing they like. A majority will never buy it.
    The biggest obstacle to History being made a universal subject often seems to be that so many of the existing teaching force could not, or would not, deliver an acceptable product.

  17. Selling History as a core subject means that politicians will have to be persuaded that a course will offer something which is of universal benefit and that History teachers could actually deliver it. The sales pitch has to be something like building civic society.
    History has a unique value in building civic society (you wont deliver it in the Maths curriculum) but research skills and critical thinking, assuming they are generally needed, might as well be delivered through compulsory cookery lessons.
    Sadly but certainly, researching the Russian Revolution will hardly be relevant to the broad mass of English sixteen year olds, most of whom will be working on into the 2060s. It may amuse a minority but no government (and no sane teacher) would inflict such stuff on an entire Y11 cohort dragooned into compulsory History. The 'research projects' so compiled would not just be facile, the punters would revolt at something so manifestly irrelevant.
    Progress on this issue means being willing to put such marginal fripperies as Historiography and comparative revolutionary analysis where they belong, i.e. in the corner if not quite the dustbin of our national History.
  18. Might as well throw critical thinking in the dustbin while your at it.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Highly valuable, builds new knowledge (both factual and conceptual), provides development of a variety of useful skills. What's the problem?

    Any sane history teacher would revolt at the nonsense that BK seems to be espousing.
  19. This one is not going anywhere. If people honestly think that the generality of sixteen-year-olds can profit from a research project on the Bolsheviks' long-lost revolution, so be it. That is one syllabus that will never be accepted as something to be required of each and every student. If people honestly think that no History teacher could deliver a national programme acceptable to a government then the question is answered. Conceptual topics can interest a minority of students and give employment to a small number of teachers but there would be no point then in pushing for compulsory History: neither syllabus nor teaching force are fit for the purpose. I would have higher hopes of the potential for an acceptable, compulsory national programme given the right scheme. There is no actual reason not to deliver the core universally and and extra helpings of the trendy bits to the enthusiasts.
  20. Morninglover

    Morninglover Lead commenter

    No GCSE syllabus I'm aware of includes a 'research project' - whether on the Russian Revolution or anything else.


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