This new curriculum has caused a kerfuffle – here is the link to the draft curriculum, The History section is on page 165 – 171.
Let me be clear, I have been watching the comments from plenty of teachers getting somewhat asymmetrical about the ‘prescriptive nature’ of the consultative document. The History Association have described it as a ‘troublesome document’, there are online polls for you to have your say. Many have written about the negative impact of the narrow curriculum, some more balanced than others.
I am amused.
The nay-sayers are being suckered. We have, as a profession, argued for many years that politicians need to trust us, and as @headguruteacher rightly suggests in his blog, we have clamoured for an opportunity to seize the initiative.
This, ladies and gentlemen is one of those moments.
Either we demonstrate that we are the calcified one dimensional people that our critics suggest we are, or we show our intelligence, agility, guile and sense of humour.
Look hard at what the curriculum suggests:
“A high-quality history education equips pupils to think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement.” That’s ok….
“A knowledge of Britain’s past, and our place in the world, helps us understand the challenges of our own time.” Debatable but not 100% wrong
The Aims for the End of KS3
There are 7 Aims here – only one is about chronology, three make explicit reference to world history, 6 make explicit reference to historical skills.(That’s a reasonable balance I think)
Key stage 1:
Summary – what it says you must do: (there is no expectation of a minimum length of time here)
1) get kids to understand some historical terms ( I just explained the Monarchy to the boy in 2 minutes – asked him what it was a while later was he said “its the big family of all the kings and queens, including those who have died” – job done, no?)
2) know some significant events like Bonfire night; 1966 & all that; (religious) festivals
3) know the stories of some cool people “such as Christina Rossetti” [it does not say you must teach about Rossetti, just explore innovative role models from history]
What it says you can’t do:
YOU HAVE BEEN OFFICIALLY GIVEN AUTONOMY TO EXERCISE YOUR PROFESSIONAL JUDGEMENT.
You have in fact been asking for Autonomy for years.
In fact PISA suggests Autonomy works…SO GRAB THIS CHANCE.
Key Stage 2:
Summary – what it says you must do:
Teach a shed load of stuff in chronological order.
Think 60 Second Godfather:
What it does not say:
- How much depth you need to teach this in.
- When in KS2 you must teach it.
My subversive suggestion is that you meet the requirements by spending Year 3 0r Year 6 creating a chronological sequence of 60 second explanations. By my reckoning thats 14 films, one afternoon a fortnight for a year.
Which then begs the question:
What will you, in your professional judgement, as an educator, do with the History curriculum in the other 3 years?
Say hello to Professional Autonomy.
Key Stage 3:
What it says you must do:
Teach the following content as a combination of overview & in-depth studies.
British Empire & its decline, Enlightenment, 17th & 18th Century European history, Slavery, Victorians, including philanthropists, Industrial history of UK, 19th Century World politics, 20th Century British History, World wars, the Civilisation & Liberalisation of British Law.
It also says that children must use historical concepts in increasingly sophisticated ways to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts. They should develop an awareness and understanding of the role and use of different types of sources, as well as their strengths, weaknesses and reliability. They should also examine cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social aspects and be given the opportunity to study local history.
What it doesn’t say:
- How many need to be in-depth.
- How in-depth is in-depth.
- What else you do with the time you have available.
Now think guerrilla! What can you get away with to free up the time you need to deal with the parts of History that you believe, in your professional judgement, are important? You know, like world perspective? Or the stuff you value…..
This is a gift wrapped, gilt edged dream come true. Stop claiming that it lacks breadth, stop implying that unless the government tells you to, you are unable to make any decision about curriculum matters. Start taking a professional guerrilla approach.
Let’s give Gove what he wants and claim back the curriculum for ourselves, we have been given permission.