No chronology, unrelated topics, exam practice, facts. No place for human and real life.
A-level students in class. Is learning history without any chronology good idea? Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian
I have never been more bored in school than at history lessons. All these dates, battles, kings and dynasties made me suffer. Why? I think because of too many dry informations and facts. We didn’t learn about people lifes, what they ate, how they dressed or how they spent their free time. Human behaviour and experience wasn’t even a background for assembly of chosen periods and events. Ordinary people weren’t important for the education system; somebody decided these informations are redundant for us.
Students have a premonition that history has other face, more interesting, full of non-published facts, but no one show it to them. New curriculum changed history lessons, but not for better. Students don’t study events from the one century or two. They study events from the other centuries and moreover, these events have nothing in common between them, e.g. ‘Hitler and the Henrys’ programme, almost 500 years between them and no match point.
History is about changes in society and human evolution as a person and as a part of community. The study of the past gives us an opportunity to understand ourselves, our countries and even a contemporary policy. How students will get to this conclusion if they have a little sense about chronology of the events?
Parents see the problem and understand the seriousness of the situation so, with history teachers and lectures, they established ‘The Better History Group’. On their website we can read “Discussion focused on the importance of maintaining history as a discrete element within the primary curriculum, and the importance of retaining an exciting ‘hands-on’ approach to learning. We agreed on the importance of establishing a chronological framework for children’s understanding, and on the crucial role that can be played by narrative and story. We looked at the issue of how primary history can support and prepare pupils for the secondary history curriculum without losing its own distinctive character and structure”.
In the submission to the Secretary of State for Education they wrote “We share the serious concerns expressed by the Historical Association, and others, about the steady decline of history’s status and position within the curriculum. Some of this decline is the result of external factors, including the Options system, the demands of Ofsted and League Tables, and the growth of skills-based courses.”
How is it possible that ordinary people see problems and they must fight for changes? Politicians take money for nothing and citizens propose what to do for free.
David Cameron’s government should do everything to educate more than as good as it’s possible generation of people, who someday will have an influence for policy in our country.
Actually, they do it with difficulty.
Maybe Michael Gove haven’t noticed that history lessons were being replaced by general humanities lessons. He also still did nothing with unrelated topics at A-level history courses (what Mary Seacole has to Nazi Germany?).
Other thing is that we dedicate too much of time for analysing sources. We should prepare students for the life by teaching them to making a logical deduction, interpreting facts and what’s the most important, THINKING. Many of them have a problem with “thunks”- questions compiled by educationalist Ian Gilbert to get students to think.
We are focusing on imparting knowledge from textbooks and we forget about explaining and showing how to use that knowledge.
I asked one of history teachers, Helen Grundy from Stockport College, what she thinks about this ‘historical problem’ and she said ” GCSE History is rather teach to the exam rather than learning for enjoyment. I think not enough time is allocated to history in schools for 11-14 year olds. It is hard to make lessons fun due to time pressure- lots to learn for exams”.
Exams are important for future education of our children but it also is killing instrument for individual thinking and pleasure of learning new things.
Famous children author, Terry Deary, said in one interview that “the aim of history teaching should be to ‘pump pupils full of facts’ ”.
Unfortunately, he’s right. It’s not teachers fault. Facts are indispensable for passing exams. Exams are indispensable for enroll to the next school in our education career. In that next school we learn facts again. It’s nothing more than vicious circle. It sounds paranoic a little, doesn’t it?
Teachers should teach students the life skills like building relationships, parenting or managing money, because that’s the hardest thing to learn in our life and they are more important than trigonometry and we are using them every day.
Dear Mr. Gove, please, change curriculum and all those absurdity teaching rules. Before that will happen we must educate children about chronology, life truth, taboo subjects and other important thing for young people, in home by ourselves. Don’t worry, children will appreciate that in nearly future.