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to think History is more than famous white men, the monarchy and wars?

(112 Posts)
kim147 Sun 30-Dec-12 21:22:29

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kim147 Tue 01-Jan-13 17:59:24

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Pantomimedam Tue 01-Jan-13 17:56:42

Horrible Histories is fab and almost always accurate although clearly it's not its job to give full context and understanding... love the explanation of the causes of WW1, though, one of the best I've seen. grin

I don't think you really get a full explanation of the protestant revolution from learning that Martin Luther liked to have meetings sitting on the bog, though. It's probably the bog stuff that you remember, not the full causes and ramifications...

kim147 Tue 01-Jan-13 16:58:30

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marjproops Tue 01-Jan-13 16:56:12

Ha! Just found you earlier Kim147!!!

Get the HH fans on here!! seriously.

marjproops Tue 01-Jan-13 16:47:55

IM A SHOUTY MUM !!! and I say.......


I've learnt EVERYTHING I need to know from there and Im now in my element teaching DC.

Hated history and its boring (mostly) facts. HH tells it like it is (or Was!!)

and with humour and songs that children and adults learn quickly!!

And they cover everone and everything.

Avuncular Tue 01-Jan-13 15:11:23

We were in a 'science and technology' stream in the 1960s and AS A CLASS we rebelled and actually went on strike against having to study history at all.

The history teacher wasn't really that bad.

We weren't punished - the HT - an OBE-recognised Scottish educationist -arrived in short order and gave us a lecture I have never forgotten.

He stressed that (paraphrasing) when learning History you are learning information collection, analysis, assessment and management skills which are applicable to any field of work (or play?). [Geography is similar]

So if I were designing a History syllabus, this would be my starting point, and then I would think 'what would be the most appropriate topics for MY cohort of pupils to learn now to help them to understand their place in current society and the world, and to enthuse them for further study later in life?'

I later graduated in Public Health Engineering and an early real-time application was to produce an urgent national assessment of the amount of underground 'dereliction' of water and sewer services.

Double decker bus size holes were regularly appearing suddenly in old industrial city centre streets and there was a huge industrial lobby for Government to spend eye-watering sums to sort things out in the 70s-80s.

Our first port of call was historical records of population growth, of Cholera in the 1800s, and the London 'Great Stink' which closed the Houses of Parliament.

Historical moral:
If you want something done, create a 'great stink' which affects Westminster!

LRDtheFeministDude Tue 01-Jan-13 10:29:04

math - I can only speak for my experience, but I think you learn to understand non-chronological narrative very much the same way you learn to understand all the other juxtapositions. Sometimes it's the most important thing to know what happened before and after what you're studying. Other times, as hair says, you really need a grasp of the big world picture.

There's an exhibit at York Minster at the moment, which I thought was brilliant, which has three juxtaposed timelines - one shows the history of the minster itself, one the history of England and then Britain at the same time, and the third refers to wider events in the world, like the building of the Taj Mahal or the Great Wall of China.

I never got to do anything like that at school because 'chronology' effectively meant 'England, then after 1603, Britain' (as a person with a Welsh mum you can imagine what I thought to that! And it never meant Ireland, either!).

The problem is, chronological approaches tend to pretend to be comprehensive, but they never can be. There will always be something else that needs to be taken into account. It's true of any teaching approach (IMO) that there will always be something else that needs taking into account - but that's why it's better to use an approach that doesn't make claims to being comprehensive, or a 'basis' for the subject.

HairTodayShornTomorrow Tue 01-Jan-13 01:13:27

Agree with Procrastinating and riskit in terms of chronological teaching and having time to fit all that teaching in.

Also think that ivy and PolterGoose make good points.

I'm one of Procrastinating's 50+s, and I do try not to be hung up on dates as such, but (as I said before) I do like having some overall sense of the order/context of events. Generally, I feel that my primary and secondary schools' teaching of history had a reasonable stab at providing a gallop through 'Britain through the ages', but did poorly at giving us a sense of comparative history. By which I mean we ended with an overview of Romans in Britain --> Tudors and Stuarts --> Britain 's role in 20th century World Wars, etc., but almost no knowledge of what was happening in the rest of the world at the same time.

So I appreciate those timelines you see in children's history books today that tell you things like (for example), the mid 1300s mean not just the Black Death in Europe, but also the Ming dynasty taking control of China from the Mongols and the rise of the Vijayangar empire in south India.

ivykaty44 Tue 01-Jan-13 00:27:08

I would like to see local history included, how parishes worked and tithe, courts and coroners, and taxation as all of these things have reference to how the country works today and why we do things the way we do.

mathanxiety Tue 01-Jan-13 00:06:56

To me, having been educated in a system where the chronological approach meant learning about the stone age when just starting out at about age 7 and progressing chronologically through to about 1940 by age 12, I can't understand how anyone could possibly get a grasp of the essential narrative if doing the Civil War in Yr 7 and WW2 in Yr 8 (for instance) -- this sort of thing:
I know my friends' older children learnt about Cromwell, the separation from Rome, and the War of the Roses in Yr8 (I think it was the Norman invasion, Black Death and Thomas Becket in Yr7).

cumfy Mon 31-Dec-12 23:48:00

Proper History

Avuncular Mon 31-Dec-12 23:35:27

BTW who was Jimmy Savile? Suddenly seems to have vanished from the history books. Circa 2012 I believe.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 31-Dec-12 20:41:48


Or as the Wife of Bath says, you've got to ask 'who painted the lion', because you can be sure it wasn't the lion himself!

PolterGoose Mon 31-Dec-12 20:06:56

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riskit4abiskit Mon 31-Dec-12 18:33:29

We have 1hr a week history at ks3 and do a chronological approach y7 and 8, galloping through Romans to end of WW2. In y9 we do themes, e.g significant developments in medicine through time.
Popular with the kids, but very rushed.
Every tom Dick and harry has an opinion.about what should be included, without really realising that our time is so limited, there's only so much we can get through. Also kids are much more interested in everyday life in the past, rather than key figures. Evacuation vs. Churchill, evacuation wins every time.

I also think it is much more of a higher order skill to evaluate the significance of individuals, a level, than just gain an understanding of events, which is lower school.

HairTodayShornTomorrow Mon 31-Dec-12 18:05:49

History is more interesting than that.

Absolutely agree with this - with the worry about this turning in to just rote learning dates of battles and the names of famous men.

Btw, you know the famous Henry Ford quote, 'History is bunk'? I read once that he elaborated on that to say (paraphrase) he was interested in history in the sense of being interested in finding out what ordinary people did in days gone by. But when he tried to find out more, he discovered that the study of history didn't provide that - it just provided the dates and doings of kings and queens and so on. So from that he concluded that the study of history is 'bunk'. Wonder if that's true? (Haven't Googled.)

kim147 Mon 31-Dec-12 17:31:26

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LRDtheFeministDude Mon 31-Dec-12 17:27:18

Thanks - and I'm not a proper historian so I don't really know what I'm talking about.

I guess I just have a bad sense that what Gove really wants is for primary school children to chant the dates of big battles and the names of famous men. I could be being unfair.

HairTodayShornTomorrow Mon 31-Dec-12 17:24:19

Don't get me wrong; have seen several of your posts before re: historical points and have always admired the fact you seem so in love with (and so much on top of) your subject. But I think here we are talking about a basic framework for history in schools - primary schools, even.

Totally agree about this not coming down to memorising a string of dates or just admiring Great White Men Who Did Big Things (think I did say this before).

Also agree with you about Normans (and the feudal system too, maybe), and about printing - but will keep that for another thread, perhaps.

HairTodayShornTomorrow Mon 31-Dec-12 17:17:50

<arf> at Manatee.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 31-Dec-12 17:15:12

Sorry, I didn't mean to come across nit-picking. blush

I think if you teach historical background as 'broadbrush', yes, it probably does work. But if you teach it as learning dates and big events, I'm not sure it does. And my worry with what's being suggested is that it looks to me like the 'memorizing dates and big events' approach. I think that does date pretty fast.

HairTodayShornTomorrow Mon 31-Dec-12 17:12:44

LRD grin, that's a very specific point about beakerware! Perhaps I shouldn't have thrown the Beaker Folk in to the mix (as it were). I was really thinking about your point earlier that these islands have experienced waves of 'invaders'/settlers over thousands of years.

I don't think that a chronological framework does go out of date, if you think of it in terms of a broadbrush background. Especially over the last 2000 years. E.g. we can argue that Roman influence in Britain obviously didn't end in 420 CE (or whatever the date of withdrawal of Roman garrisons was), or we might suggest that Viking influence in Britain pre-dates 793 CE (was that the date of first invasion?), but, generally speaking, I think we'd agree that, overall, Roman influence in Britain pre-dates Viking influence.

My thinking is just that a broadly chronological framework is something on which to pin more detailed study.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 31-Dec-12 17:09:30


Obviously not. But the beaker ware example is properly flexible - people genuinely got the order wrong because they didn't have carbon dating. Obviously the closer to modern times you are, the less likely that is to happen in such a crude way.

But, for example, you get people who think that before the Norman Conquest, no-one in England spoke Norman French, or that after printing, all books were printed. There was someone who once told me kindly that it wasn't possible to study books in medieval times because before printing presses, nothing was written down.

Those are problems I think you get when people learn chronology too early and in too rigid a way - they don't get to learn there's also a lot of continuity, and overlap, and that most events don't fit neatly as points on a timeline marking a distinct 'before' and 'after'.

OTheYuleManatee Mon 31-Dec-12 17:04:46

you give people the idea that the order - and the content - you've taught are immutable.

Totally agree with you that it's vital to be able to apply some critical thought to what does or doesn't get included in the Official History Narrative. But while I agree that the content and inflection of an historical narrative is mutable to an extent, in what sense is this true of the order of events?

Is there some sense in which, say, the Battle of Britain could be said to have happened before the Norman Conquest? Or the execution of Charles I taken place before Henry VIII was born?


whathasthecatdonenow Mon 31-Dec-12 17:01:30

It is very much change for the sake of change, though. Chronology is a key skill in the attainment levels and we do teach in a broadly chronological fashion. The only units I teach that jump about a fair bit are Disaster and Crisis and Rights and Freedoms. However, within these I teach in chronological order and putting these topics in context often means looking back to prior learning.

The biggest problem I have in History teaching is fending off the other departments who have realised how fantastic History is and keep trying to nick our topics to enrich their own teaching.

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