Thursday, January 27, 2005

History to 16!

So, the tories want us all to learn history to the age of 16.. here commences the rant!
1- manipulative fascists! I hate the fact that it is seen as acceptable politics for these guys to announce this on the 60th anniversary of the discovery of Auschwitz. Interesting that they should do it at the same time as announcing a similar 'no-one comes here' policy as much of the 30's saw!
2- history is not dates!! It may be in the hallowed corridor of some expensive exam factory but in the real world it isn't. Will they please get off the jingoistic trip that says that Britain will still be great if we can remember when the Battle of Waterloo is!

Mellowing now, I actually agree that teaching history to the age of 16 would be great! Its one of those subjects that requires a grasp of the abstract. Teaching the real stuff of history requires a developmental shift that diesn't happen till key stage four!

Ironically I think you can teach all the date stuff before that. Students can have it neatly in their books. But they won't remember it: why? because its not relevant. We live ina culture where we don't know phone numbers anymore because they can be stored in our phone. We only retain information that we need to survive. The rest is stored somewhere where it can be retrieved. Teaching dates will never be retained. Teaching reasons for dates might.

When we teach black peoples of the Americas in school, students remember. relate and identify. Why? Because persecution because of colour, being made to conform, is all part of daily life. They don't remember dates, but they do remember the terrible condidtions. They don't remeber the three crops of sugar, tobacco and cotton, but they do remember that there was injustice. They don't remember when the US civil war was, but they do remember that slavery was stopped.

Michael Hiward may not like it, but thats the history that needs to be taught. A history that ackowledges the role of Britain as oppressor, that encourages us as a nation to be at the forefront of justice now. In that history the dates are not important. But then in that history Mr Howard would not get a single vote..

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