Curriculum is a mess. Is that good for history?

Is an actual curriculum the opposite of real idea of teaching? Unrelated topics, focusing on the exam practice, lack of facts. No place for human and real life.

History is about changes in society and human growth, as a person and as a part of the community. The study of the past gives us an opportunity to understand ourselves, our countries and even a contemporary policy. How will students obtain to this conclusion if they have a little sense about chronology of the events?
A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Our curriculum review is not about teaching any kind of misguided nationalism in schools. To suggest otherwise is insulting to the professionalism of teachers.”
I agree that the curriculum needed a modernization. The new curriculum changed history lessons, but not for better. Gove said „a review of the national curriculum should lead to a better balanced study of history that placed greater emphasis on understanding Britain's past” but A-level lessons about Great Britain’s history are still confines into the source studying.
Other thing is that, children are studying events from the other centuries and what’s more, these events have nothing in common between them, e.g. ‘Hitler and the Henrys’ programme, almost 500 years between them and no match point. It’s very easy for a mistake at the assessment, isn’t it?
I tried put myself at the position of students and all I can say is ‘madness’. But I understand the government, or I tried to. New curriculum, probably, is not so costly and, in the future, they will have the perfect working-class – scantily educated, believing in every word of politicians.
The Better History Group,  which is  “a small Think Tank of experienced history teachers and lecturers concerned to improve the current position and quality of history in the school curriculum who wants better future for their children. How is it possible that parents and teachers have to establish a group which will fight to improve the current quality of the history in the curriculum, while it is the duty of the Minister of Education?
After reading their statement, I decided to support them. When I was a student, teachers said we have to learn about other countries to make our own a better one and end our insular habit of mind. I agree with that but The Better History Group has also right saying that “all children have the right to learn the history of the land where they live”.
People remember the Tudors because of the Henry’s VIII  attitude towards his wifes and the church reformation but during 108 years of their reign there was a big cultural development. Without Queen Elisabeth I’s permission for establishing The Globe (the second theater in London) in 1599, Shakespeare wouldn’t have an opportunity for showing his opuses. By that, the Queen had her own contribution into evolution of the masque structure and an antic order was just a memory. The Stuart dynasty continued that cultural development. If Elisabeth would have a successor, probably there wouldn’t be an incorporation of England and Scotland.
The Boer war WAS, because the British wanted Boer’s goods which have been discovered. But students won’t get this information at the lesson. It would derange students view on the Empire.
By ‘Hitler and the Henrys’ programme students are too much focused on the Nazi Germany so they don’t know the background of the enthronement of the present royal family.

Different nationality means different mentality. I remember my history lessons in Poland. When I was in the primary school and gymnasium, history was one of my favourite subjects. My teachers narrated history so I didn’t have to learn by heart for assessments because I remembered everything from the lesson. Children quicker will remember a name of the King who killed a dragon, than name of the King who in some year won the battle somewhere and trounced the Lord who had a dragon on his blazon. Children will easier remember something funny which they can easy imagine, e.g. Charlie Chaplin in his film ‘Dictator’ as Adolf Hitler- in short, easy and funny way he showed how Hitler wanted to get his hands on the world;  rather than one hundred facts which can be used as a bedtime story (they are so boring we’re falling asleep by listening to them).

One part of brain is for battle dates and names, and second part is for creativity and imagination. In my opinion, if children won’t use both of them for learning, they will forget everything till the exam. 24 hours after learning, human brain forgets 80 per cent of what we learnt and it’s a scientific fact. But it doesn’t change that many of teenagers, if not all of them, study a day before assessment or test.
In the United Kingdom is one writer who helps children in discovering other face of history. Terry Deary, in his books,  is focusing on human beings because as he said “when you understand why people behave the way they do, then the world becomes a better place”. Why didn’t Michael Gove reach a similar conclusion when he was re-writing the curriculum?

Terry Deary wrote ‘The Horrible Histories’ series which contains almost 100 books and they describe people’s life styles, daily duties, leisure activities and how events, which we are studying, affected ordinary people lifes. I think those books should be included in the curriculum, even reading them as homework, because they give an opportunity to complete children’s knowledge, especially in high schools where history lessons are often limited to the preparing for exams.
Students learn by heart how to field the exam paper or how to write an essay to get the highest mark but “what with preparing them to the normal life, parenting, socializing and budget management” asks Terry Deary in one of the interviews?  

                The main argument for changing the history curriculum is having well-educated inhabitants who will appreciate their country and will be proud of it. Teachers should mould the community capable of self-cultivation for good of the totality, am I right? But before government will do that, I’m going to the library and read some books about history of the United Kingdom. Not as a review for an exam but for enjoyment. 

The article was written in 2011 as an As English Language coursework piece.


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