June 2014
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Problems teaching Benin in KS2 history curriculum

As you all know,from September 2014 all state schools have to teach a non-Western historical study from the period c. AD 900. There are three options: Benin, early Islam and Maya. Whereas schools have taught the Aztecs before,Baghdad and Benin are new kids on the block. And they are far easy to plan and teach at KS2. The one that worries me most is Benin. I can see how that could be a great study but not within the time limits set down in the Programme of Study . Am I alone in thinking that some of the more interesting periods of Benin history occur after this time span. I know the argument that you don’t want to study African history only when the Benin they encounter the West. But the real problem is the lack of written sources post 1300. One can take oral history only so far. far more rewarding is the study of the bronzes and those in particular that show the contrast between western and African nations in the 15th Century.
Clearly one can teach this outside the NC but this ca be said of every period! So, has it been thought through from a teaching and learning perspective: certainly not. Gove has simply responded to criticism that his curriculum is too Anglo-centric in far too clumsy a matter. What are we to say to children who ask , why are we studying this period of Benin/Islamic/Mayan history when the boo talks of the Golden Age being a different period! Ask Gove!!

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