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Curriculum change Implications for teaching and learning in history SSAT History & Geography Conference 2013 Ben Walsh

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Presentation on theme: "Curriculum change Implications for teaching and learning in history SSAT History & Geography Conference 2013 Ben Walsh"— Presentation transcript:

1 Curriculum change Implications for teaching and learning in history SSAT History & Geography Conference 2013 Ben Walsh

2 Context … As part of effort to promote patriotism among younger generations the government has proposed creating a single set of history textbooks for schoolchildren, arguing that there should be more consistency in what students are taught and that textbooks should be free of internal contradictions and ambiguities. Speaking at a conference, …. said textbooks must be "designed for different ages but built around a single concept, with the logical continuity of national history, the relationship between the different stages in history, and respect for all the pages of our past." He called for specific proposals to be prepared by the Autumn … Advocates of the new textbooks say discord in the historical narrative has brought about a lack of patriotism in the country, while opponents say they fear that failures of state policies will be omitted to promote a more positive image of the country, with the emphasis exclusively on victories and achievements. The government's initiative is supported by many, but it faces strong resistance from some school teachers. Press article 26.4.13

3 Counter context … Sir: Toby Young (Status anxiety, 23 February) cant quite believe how many professional historians have denounced the new history curriculum, but if so many of us are against it, perhaps we have a point. I am glad that he agrees with our recent statement that history is a treasure house. There is a crucial difference here, however: he sees it as a repository of knowledge, whereas we described it as a treasure house of human experience. Yes, this does mean that we advocate learning about bias and the complexities of social and gender history, as well as the facts of political and military history. The idea that there is a canonical body of knowledge that must be mastered, but not questioned, is inconsistent with high standards of education in any age. Professional historians are indeed wary of such ministerial tinkerings, not because we are a bunch of dyed-in-the-wool lefties as Toby Young fondly imagines, but because they will do nothing to raise standards or to create a freer educational system. Prof Jackie Eales, President of HA in a letter to Spectator 2.3.13

4 From? ONCE upon a time there was a giant called Neptune. When he was quite a tiny boy, Neptune loved the sea. All day long he played in it, swimming, diving, and laughing gleefully as the waves dashed over him. As he grew older he came to know and love the sea so well that the sea and the waves loved him too, and acknowledged him to be their king. At last people said he was not only king of the waves, but god of the sea …

5 Implications within this context … The new NC proposals may or may not impact on what you teach – World history dimension seems likely – Some reduction – Rebalancing KS2/3 – But will your school apply it anyway? It should not impact on how you teach – statutorily or practically But … is it an opportunity to rethink content and or practice?

6 Opportunity to rethink content and or practice? Is chronology worth a rethink? New content – and coverage thereof Those pesky sources …

7 Chronology Much more than putting stuff in order Booster concept to higher order concepts - you can do narrative without thinking but the other way around? Different takes on chronology: – Narrative into cause and significance – Roman Empire, 1066, Reformation, Abolition of slavery … – What mattered when? (Google Ngram) – What was happening over there when X was happening here? (

8 Looking at content … British Empire Britain's global impact in the 19th century, including: war in the Crimea and the Eastern Question gunboat diplomacy and the growth of Empire the Indian Mutiny and the Great Game the scramble for Africa the Boer Wars


10 Sources for narrative / change /development Lets NOT ask what they can find out Lets NOT ask whether the sources are useful or reliable about X, Y, Z Lets ask … – What common threads are appearing? – What stories are unfolding? – What questions can these sources answer? – And how satisfied are you with those answers?

11 Sources for enrichment Someone afraid? Someone unhappy? Someone outraged? Someone on a mission? Someone denying? Someone belittling? Someone praising? Someone warning? Someone accusing? Someone threatening? What else?

12 Sources for …. Enquiry Enquiry question stems How did… Why were… What made… How different were… What can… tell us about… What lay behind… Why did… Did… change… What was so important about… Was… a failure? Why was… so successful? Why did people disagree about….? Why is it so difficult to find out about….? Why were so many people…? Whats the story behind…? Why have such different stories been told about…? Why do people still argue about…? Who can tell us most about…? Why could no one ignore…? How should we write the history of…? Should we just accept …? Who gives us the most convincing account of …?

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