March 2010
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Gove\'s lunatic plans for new history curriculum

Apologies if this blog is less lucid than usual.I’m suffering from apoplexy, having just read the Times report on Tory plans for education. I knew what to expect, of course, But somehow, seeing it in print just months away from a tighly contested election made my blood run cold. As I peeped between by fingers covering the awful news, I managed to get past ‘pupils to learn poetry by heart’ and the involvement of the Prince of Wales with my sanity intact. Until I reached the bit about ‘learning  kings and queens of England(sic)’. Apparently that is the best’training for the mind’. Unbelievable.

Gove apparently has roped in a few telly historians . not just for their view for their views  but to write the new curriculum ! So Schama, Roberts and Montefiore will be invited to do the impossible-I wonder if they will accept,if it ever came to that. I do know they won’t succeed. I suppose its better than Carol Vorderman whose appalling performance on Question Time must make Maths teachers quake in their boots.

All this is, of course, a needless reaction to misunderstanding of the nature of the history that is currently taught and how. These inconvenient truths would silence comments such ‘ the children are encouraged to learn blogging instead of historical dates!’ If it wasn’t so worrying, it would be funny.

Apparently, according to Gove, history teachers ‘don’t love abstract thinking skills, they love the thrill of discovery in their own field.’ History, he goes on to assert. ‘ should be taught “in order-its a narrative”. He thinks lessons should celebrate rather than denigrate Britain’s role through the ages, including the Empire.

So back to the 1950s, Plato to NATO, presumably staring in primary schools. Think of the consequences, The new primary currciulum will need to be ripped up before a lesson is taught and the new KS3 curriculum will be back to the drawing board. I’ve yet to discover what his plans are fore the non-chronological GCSE courses. I shudder to think!

Pity the poor graduates looking forward to starting their careers in history teaching. What will they have let themselves in for? Pity the poor history teachers in post who have  done such a brilliant job in giving pupils a truly worthwhile historical education  that genuinely equips them with the skills necessary to critique the inane comments of politicans- to be the crap detectors of thr 21st century. If we’re not too careful we might find a shortage in history teachers willing to help Gove turn his back on 20 years of undoubted improvement. Some of us who taught for many years before the advent National Curriculum well recall what a hit and miss affair pupils’ history education was. If only Gove could be bothered to visit as few schools he would see how wrong he is. He recently announced that he was amazed that separate sciences ‘appear not to be taught in some schools’. Where has this guy been? Out of touch with schools, and reality, he is in danger of doing the history teaching profession serious damage. Somehow I think he’ll be stopped before he does!

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