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Patrick McMahon

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  1. The national curriculum, originally devised to bring a 'broad and balanced' approach to school history, now provides options which may result in KS3 pupils experiencing very different content , from school to school, from region to region. The 'rigour' of GCSE courses, so different from the innovative (hopefully) KS3 teaching, in some ways may dismiss previous experiences as irrelevant. My own experience and that of colleagues, is that what is taught during KS3, whilst enjoyable and fulfilling (at the time) for pupils, drifts into a blend of 'Harold was shot in the eye', 'Beckett was chopped up by Henry's knights', 'Henry Vlll had lots of wives' and the Civil War,sliding into an inseparable morass of Industrial Revolution, social issues of 19th and 20th centuries and of course WW1 and WW2 ( in preparation for a possible GCSE course); the key questions are; is the CONTENT relevant and is the KS3 'skills aquisition' process ignored once the 'real' GCSE starts to roll?
  2. re. Cromwell ( in Ireland) I grew up in Ireland: my grandparents spoke of Cromwell as though he and his troops had just, a day or so ago, passed along the nearby road, inflicting on the local populace 'indiscriminate' justice, with, of course 'God on his side'. What is crucial is that the 'received' knowledge has more enduring influence than academic research.
  3. Reply: The worst? or the 'popular worst'? Our impression of the good and the bad is based on the received evidence and the current interpretations applied to that evidence, which, as Elton (whether you approve or not) noted had the good fortune to survive: survive? a few careful selections and disposals may easily influence future opinions. For my own input, Henry VIII was the worst - for personal, selfish reasons, he altered the structure, administration and societal stability of the 'nation'.
  4. I think that this article has highlighted some important dimensions which are sometimes downplayed or misunderstood by the electorate; firstly, a prime minister is the leader of the country (now, is that England, Britain, Great Britain or the United Kingdom, with or without devolved assemblies?) and secondly, a prime minister is usually the leader and public face of the political party. However, the present situation would seem to indicate that the 'incumbent' has moved away from collaborative decision-making within the cabinet, and has established (quite successfully) a US presidential-mode of leadership. But let's not forget that US presidents have their cluster of advisors also, (our cabinet?) What is surprising is that the cabinet, fellow MPs and the media have let him get away with it, perhaps he has taken away the 'greasy pole of promotion'. He is doing what he wants - wether this is for self-aggrandishment with an eye firmly fixed on some pseudo hall of fame, or perhaps there is a psychological need which has changed his perception of 'the people'. Generally, I have little time for politicians, prime ministers, MPs or local councillors or the unquestioning 'devotees' who wear down their shoe leather on behalf of these attention seekers. The sheer duplicity that some individuals have to exercise was illustrated by the demise of MP David Trimple - a genuine man trying to move with the times, who could see that NI would only make progress through consultation and the possibility of compromise, but it was the minority of 'devotees' who strangled his ideas - and he backed off. Is that what politicians do? Tony Blair will be remembered; his chancellor has raised the concept of indirect taxation 'of the people' in unimagined novel ways and he has allowed his zeal to appear as the saviour of education and health (the only two issues not dictated by the EU) to raise him, not above, but beyond the realism 'of the people'. His presuming a global role may seem to indicate an image of 'sincerity and concern' but it is unlikely that his puny efforts will ever match the directness and candour of the likes of Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela and more recently, bad-boy-makes-good, Bill Clinton.
  5. Patrick McMahon

    George Best

    ..great little snippet re. Guy F. and Parliament: yours.,or quoted?? I'd like to reuse it
  6. The list of prospective contributors is interestings: Why on earth does ANYONE have to DECLARE a political preference? More than a century ago, common people made sacrifices in order to retain their preferences, their thoughts and their fears from the powers ' that be'. The current trend of nailing ones' affiliations to the public post is based on ....what? It reflects an assumption of the pseudo-security of one side of an almost polarized society where the common people follow allegiances which are traditional and accepted without any deep thought....very similar to football/rugby support! Why does anyone wish to circumvent the PRIVACY of the ballot box? Maybe those whe declare their colours are playing a game i.e. 'look...I'm one of you..'. The exceptionally well paid politicians do appreciate your back-up!!! Do those who CLAIM to be active/committed in a political sense really sit back and SERIOUSLY look at all the angles or are they seeking some sort of reassurance, a sense of belonging, a companionship.....? I can appreciate the value of 'teaching' politics'....I worry when I see that the contributors do not reflect the wider spectrum. Me?...I have never ever missed a voting oportunity.,even to spoil a vote.,and I have never belonged to any political group.....I vote with my conscience and stuff the media and the slick 'suits' and perhaps that is the message that young, emerging adults should hear.
  7. Be realistic..go do a straw poll..Nelson et al do not figure in an overcrowded national curriculum...I do not know ONE teacher who gives more than a passing comment.
  8. I'm always surprised how ofter Cromwell keeps popping up.,perhaps he's a good example of meteoric rise and unexpected demise! The problem is that some KS3 teachers drag out the Civil War; why? is there a subconscious need to define the Protestant-Catholic dimension,? As you suggest. in the overall scheme of things, you are correct in your observation that British History, as taught, tends to be British with other dimensions skirting around the edges.
  9. Yes, my initial response is that you are quite correct in that teachers, within the cut and thrust of teaching alongside the ancillary demands of paperwork, targets and pastoral duties, do adopt a pragmatic approach; I do recall an experienced teacher suggesting that any teacher wishing to be 'on the ball' needed to adopt the practice of the fat magpie...grab any resource from wherever, whenever, however.,and be prepared to repeat the process annually!! quote=Richard Jones-Nerzic,Apr 29 2005, 03:15 PM] Six years ago I left the UK and set up a new History department from scratch. I had limitless resources and no national curriculum or inspectors to tell me what to do. And still I ended up with something that looks fairly similar to the UK National Curriculum. The most important reason for this, I think, is the deadweight of tradition rather than biases, recognized or subtle. I was produced in an educational climate which I (largely) unconsciously reproduce and which imposes significant structural limitations on my freedon to teach how and what I like. Also the 'capital' of good history teaching is to be found in the teacher's experiences as a learner and most importantly in the material resources and ideas produced by generations of previous (and current) history teachers. I ended up with a similar curriculum because I borrowed from the best that I found available. At one time in the UK (and in most parts of the world still today), the point of history in the curriculum was to inculcate a shared National consciousness that would help distinguish us from the other. It is interesting to identify those bits of the curriculum that are there because they have always been there. Those bits that were important in the past because they helped the process of inculcation. They are difficult to spot because there is always the pragmatic responses that 'students need to understand the physical environment in which they live' or 'it is useful to study the nature of a civil war so we might as well study the English Civil War as much as any other'. In the UK we separated skills from content in history some time ago. Consequently, when I was in the UK I often got to the end of lesson and thought to myself 'what was the (historical content) point of that lesson?' I was regularly stuck for an answer. As a politics and philosophy graduate, with a broad interest in the social sciences I have often wondered about the primacy of history on the curriculum. If we were all building a curriculum for scratch, how would we justify history's inclusion at the expense of the other disciplines, without resorting to importance of the historical content of what we teach? For example, what ultimately does the 12 year old student 'understand' about the English Civil War that is so important that they could not have been taught more effectively through another subject or indeed another discipline? You'll be surprised to hear that I don't teach the English Civil War to my (largely) British international students in the south of France. But had I discovered or developed an exciting skills based activity based on it, I probably still would. Similarly, I introduced philosophy into the curriculum at KS3 but this year I won't get around to teaching it because the resources I have for teaching history (that I am aware of) make for much more interesting lessons. Deadweight of tradition and teaching 'capital' win again. <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
  10. For some recent years now, controversy has erupted in China, after the Japanese Ministry of Education approved the use in schools of a History textbook that the Chinese claimed 'whitewashed Japan's attrocities' at Nanking (an 'incident' or a 'massacre') and during WW2. This is just one of eight 'approved' books and is used in less than 1% of Japan's schools. On the other hand, Chinese texts are most selective about not only events, but the interpretations of those events e.g.,the Korean war was launched by Americal imperilism. Indeed the whole furore may indicate worries about rights to oil & gas under the East China Sea or perhaps Japan's pending application to join the UN Security Council!!! The question is: considering the breadth of knowledge to be squeezed into our KS3 schemes of work, are we the teachers, selecting topics which may indicate bias and do our KS3 texts show any signs of subtle selectivity? :
  11. I am Patrick McMahon, now (early!) retired after thirty years taeching History. Currently, I am plodding through a part time EdD (provisional title area: content of Y9 KS3 History may influence, negatively, opting for GCSE), facilitated by University of Huddersfield (Dr. Roy Fisher).
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