Radio programme: The Teaching of History in British Schools
Posted 15 October 2011 - 09:36 PM
Presented by David Cannadine, this is one of the fruits of the Institute of Historical Research project on the teaching of History in English state secondary schools during the past century. Mostly from oral historieas given by pupils, teachers and policy-makers, with much of the material, unsurprisingly, related to the period after the Second World War. The first half of the programme focused on the whether History teaching was an agent of British imperialism. The rest looked at developments in the history curriculum and teaching methods since the 1960s, as well as clips from such fictional teachers as Miss Jean Brodie and Mr Irwin (from 'The History Boys'). Among those heard were Simon Schama, Kenneth Baker and our own John D. Clare.
I would be interested to hear what other people thought. It is repeated on Monday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. which is hardly peak listenting time for teachers. You can, however, 'listen again' for seven days from today, 15th October 2011.
Posted 16 October 2011 - 08:44 AM
Having been teaching for 30 years a lot of the resources/arguments/voices in the latter part of the programme were familiar to me...sometimes in a welcome way, at other times as if from a nightmare I thought I'd forgotten! Particularly nice to hear JDC in person (never actually heard him speak before, despite having read much he has written!) And since David Cannadine led the project, I am sure it was balanced and rigorous...but I couldn't help wondering just how much it, or any survey, can truly cover all the variety of history teaching that exists, and has existed. Were we really so straight-jacketed by the introduction of the NC, for example? Did we all use the facile examples of empathy quoted by Chris McGovern? Did we all teach using 'How we Lived then'? I know I didn't (probably showed less than 10 episodes of it in my whole career...), nor did all my lessons turn into empathy with words put into the mouths of the dead...
One definite recommendation from Canndine and the others he speaks to is continuing History for all to 16 - now part of me says 'great', but - and it is a big 'but' I think - do we really want to teach the current GCSEs to all students? All of the courses I know seem to be far more aimed at the more able end of the spectrum, and anecdotal evidence (such as other posts on this forum) suggest that even teaching GCSEs to younger pupils can prove difficult without ending up with poor results. While league tables continue to exist history departments could end up as the whipping boys for SLTs if their results were thought to 'ruin' a school's results...In reality extension to 16 for all will require new courses, I think. And is anyone planning for this now? 'May you live in interesting times' may, actually not be an ancient curse, but it does seem appropriate given the challenges that may well face the next generation of history teachers as mine shuffles off into the 'old codgers' section of the staffroom...
Posted 18 October 2011 - 04:16 PM
Love Cannadine's point though that not only have history teachers at the start of the twentieth century not glorified Empire, but in fact some didn't teach it at all or taught that it was a bad thing. I love the tradition of left-wing history teachers!
Posted 20 October 2011 - 08:09 AM
Edited by alf wilkinson, 20 October 2011 - 08:10 AM.
Posted 20 October 2011 - 11:16 AM
Edited by Norman Pratt, 20 October 2011 - 11:17 AM.
Posted 26 February 2012 - 08:45 AM
Posted 26 February 2012 - 11:58 AM
Cannadine was one of my lecturers at University. He was very entertaining but spoke so fast that it was impossible to take notes unless you had advanced Pitman shorthand. He didn't give out handouts either , if I recall correctly, so his methods would probably not have impressed a modern Ofsted inspector!
However, as we all well know, universities don't have to worry about OFSTED. I'm not sure quality of teaching is necessarily that high on the list of priorities nowadays either.
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