February 2013
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Defenders of the new history curriculum have their say: a dozen dons can't be wrong?

In this morning’s Times, supported by a front page and leader aticle, a dozen dons have come out of the woodwork to have their say in support of Gove’s lunatic proposals.
Let’s break down what they say. Their words are in italics, my comments follow below

1. we believe that every child should have the opportunity to attain a broad and comprehensive knowledge of English and British history
The absence of any reference to European , let alone world history is deplorable.
2. history has a special role in developing ..a sense of identity.
Agreed, but how does the study of the heptarchy help a 7-year old achieve this?
3.interwoven with the ability to analyse and research the past that remains essential for a full understanding of modern society
This is important. When we naturally focus so much on the unteachable content, we may lose sight of the fact that many of the skills, concepts and process we currently teach are still there in this curriculum, if somewhat buried under the mountains of dates and names
4. no pupils should be denied full knowledge of the rich tapestry of the history of their own country, in both its internal and international dimensions
Once again, it is the age-ld problem that international history only comes into play when it affects Britain directly. Studying indigenous peoples in their own right is seen as irrelevant.
5.we want a renewed focus in primary school for history
This is hogwash.How many of these eminent historian has the least idea of what is currently taught in KS1 and 2. if they did they would not be suggesting that infants should be taught the meaning of the concept ‘nation’ nor would they move highly successful topics from KS1 into KS2 which is massively overloaded. If I was a KS2 teacher I would be apoplectic with rage at what i am being expected to teach.
6.We also welcome the indication that sufficient freedom will in future be given to history teachers to plan and teach in ways which will revitalise history in schools.
Here, here. But will this happen? I think it will, by default. An alternative curriculum close to the present one, will continue to be taught, with probably more emphasis on chronology.
7.the proposals will provoke controversy among those attached to the status quo and suspicious of change.
This is grossly insulting. Perhaps opponents of the ludicrous draft proposals are only attached to the status quo because it works pretty well, as it is the product of what works, rather than Gove’s untried and untested pipedreams.

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