23 SES 04 B, Educational Research and Policy
Parallel Paper Session
The part played by academic historians in the fashioning of the history curriculum in schools varies from one country to another. In some countries – for instance Japan and the Netherlands, academics have played an influential role in discussions and policymaking relating to the nature, form and purpose of history in schools (Grever and Stuurman, 2007, Sato, 2008), whereas until recently, historians had not played a central role in the formulation of the history curriculum in schools (Phillips, 1998, Haydn, 2011). However, (for the first time since the inception of the National Curriculum for History in 1991) the Secretary of State for Education and other leading politicians have called for leading UK historians to be closely involved in this latest reform of school history. Historian Simon Schama has been asked to lead the review, and other historians, including Niall Ferguson and Andrew Roberts have been asked to give their views on the form and purpose of school history (Collins, 2005, Gove 2010). The current review will result in the fifth version of the statutory curriculum for history since its inception, and the first to be significantly influenced by the ideas of professional historians working in universities.
Given that historians are to be given a significant influence over the nature and form of the new National Curriculum for history, what are the implications for the sort of school history which is likely to emerge from this process? The paper examines the views of the large numbers of academic historians who have expressed their views about school history in recent decades, either through comments on television and in newspapers, or in academic journals, and more popular history magazines.
What weaknesses do they identify in more recent models of history education in UK schools, and what are their prescriptions for improving it? Have the views of historians on what sort of history should be taught in school remained fairly constant over time, or is it possible to discern a change over time in their ideas as we have moved into the 21st century, and over the past two decades, when the state has decreed a statutory National Curriculum for history for all pupils in state schools? To what extent do the views of UK historians correspond to the contributions of historians elsewhere in the world who have contributed to national debates about the content and purpose of school history in their countries? The paper draws on Aldrich's idea ( see Aldrich, 2006) of historical perspectives (the study of the past in order to gain insights into current issues and problems by considering what has gone before). In terms of perspectives and theoretical frameworks, the paper also draws on the work of Stephen J. Ball, whose analysis of educational policymaking considers the interplay of three influences on education policy; the context of influence, the context of text production, and the context of practice (Ball, 1990). This theoretical framework was deployed by Robert Phillips, in his study of the original National Curriculum for history in the UK (Phillips, 1998).
Aldrich, R. (2006) Lessons from history of education, London, Routledge. Ball, S. (1990) Politics and Policymaking in Education: Explorations in Policy Sociology, London, Routledge. Collins, T. (2005) Speech to National Conference of Catholic Headteachers, 27 January. Gove, M. (2010) Quoted in ‘Pupils to Learn Poetry by Heart in Tory Return to Traditional School Lessons’, The Times, 6 March: 3. Grever, M. and Stuurman, S. (eds) (2007) Beyond the canon: history for the twenty first century, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan. Haydn, T. (2011) Historians and school history: a view from the UK, paper presented at the HEIRNET Conference, Braga, 19 July. Maddern, K. (2010) ‘History Teachers Call for Extra Time on Kings and Queens’, Times Educational Supplement, 21 May 2010: 6. Phillips, R. (1998) History Teaching, Nationhood and the State: a Study in Educational Politics, London, Cassell. Sato, M. (2008) ‘History text books in Japan, paper presented at the annual conference of the International Society for History Didactics, Tutzing, September.
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