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Dan Moorhouse

Future of the History Curriculum

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If kids aren't especially interested in chemistry or history, why should we care, if they have chose to drop those subjects in favor of others that they find more appealing? Isn't it reasonable to expect a certain minimum from the secondary curriculum (up to KS3) that equips them to survive in historical or chemical terms, and then allow them to move on from there to other areas they find stimulating? It's a similar idea to, "Sport for All". A disastrous concept that breeds, large numbers of mediocre participants, rather than selected elite performers.

I may be going off topic a little here but I wanted to address some of the points of breadth vs depth.

Being a product of the International Baccalaureate I would argue strongly for breadth of content both within history and outside.

Why should pupils study things which don't appeal to them? Cos that's life, they are still forming their opinions, skills and even characters. It is important to maintain a balance in your life and learn as many skills as possible. Universities and employers are impressed that I, a historian, have studied two languages, literature, a science, maths, theory of knowlege and history up to the age of 18.

Its true what another poster has said, breadth and depth are not mutually exclusive. In 'higher history' I studied 19th C topics in just as much detail as an A-level student and in 'subsid' I covered, in less depth admittedly, 20th C dictatorships and wars. I feel that I have an excellent knowledge of a range of topics as a result and I was certainly at an advantage in university (in the 1st year at least) as I was able to confidently cross-reference regions and periods.

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It's a similar idea to, "Sport for All". A disastrous concept that breeds, large numbers of mediocre participants, rather than selected elite performers.

Oh, I **do** hate that! As well as teaching history, I'm also an under-13 soccer coach here. Yes, it's true that none of the players on my team is ever going to play for Arsenal (or even Real Madrid!), BUT

(1) Even though they're "mediocre" their enjoying healthy activity which doesn't involve them sitting for hours in front of a TV screen soaking up God-knows-what. At weekends, I sometimes watch the local "seniors" league games at the local sports center. I hope some of my under-13s are still playing when they're 50!

(2) As well as learning (or even **failing** to learn) how to play football, my kids are also learning more important lessons, like sportsmanship, team spirit, how to win gracefully, or (in the case of my team) how to accept defeat without seeing it as a reflection on their personal worth.

And surely that's why we're history teachers as well -- because we honestly believe that a study of the past can enlighten our perspective as we look to the future. All disciplines contribute **something** to the creation of a rounded human being. That's why I agree with the ex-IB student who wrote about the breadth of the program. Certainly, I don't find that my IB students have sacrificed **anything** in depth compared with the A level students my wife teaches, and yet her students have never studied the French Revolution, or the Industrial Revolution, or the unification of Italy, etc, etc. They **do** know a great deal about Nazi Germany, Mao's China, and Stalinist Russia, but not much more than my IB students do...

My daughter has just transferred from my school -- an American international school -- to my wife's school -- an overseas British school teaching the NC to GCSE and A-level. Instead of studying seven subjects at 11th Grade as she did at my school, she's now down to three at A or AS level. She finds she has a lot more free time to spend on research, violin practice, soccer practice, etc, but I can't help feeling she's lost something...

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