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PostPosted: Sat 26 Sep, 2015 1:34 pm 
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The visit of ED Hirsch to these shores to give lectures at places connected with people who value his insights i.e. Policy Exchange, Cambridge Assessment (home of Tim Oates) and the Inspiration Trust, also brought forth a book of pieces about the curriculum.(1)

The opening piece was written by Nick Gibb who came up with this in a section of why the curriculum that was replaced was all about obtaining skills and was light on actual knowledge:

Image


This isn't a new criticism since it was first aired by Daisy Christodolou in her book Seven Myths About Education (2013) where in the first chapter "Myth 1: facts prevent understanding" she wrote:


Quote:
"In the primary curriculum, last revised in 1999, and the Key Stage 3 (KS3) curriculum, last revised in 2007, there is a deliberate reduction , and in some cases, complete removal, of subject content. This move was sometimes taken to mean that the curriculum freed up teachers to teach what they liked. This was not quite the case. While these curricula certainly had very much prescribed subject content, they still had a gtreat deal prescription. But in this case, the prescription. But in this case, the prescription was for skills, experiences and certain methods, rather than content.. Consider the history curriculum, for example. The 2007 KS3 curriculum prescribes not knowledge but instead a list of skills. The things that pupils should learn are as follows:

Historical enquiry
Pupils should be able to:
a. identify and investigate, individually and as part of a team, specific historical questions or issues, making and testing hypotheses
b. reflect critically on historical questions or issues

Using evidence
Pupils should be able to:
a. identify, select and use a range of historical sources, including textual, visual and oral sources, artefacts and the historic environment
b. evaluate the sources used in order to reach reasoned conclusion

Communicating about the past
Pupils should be able to:
a. present and organise accounts and explanations about the past that are coherent, structured and substantiated, using chronological convention and historical vocabulary.



This criticism was echoed at the Battle of Ideas in October 2014 by a teacher blogger called Robert Peal. Peal's section starts at 17:20.



In it says this about the 2007 curriculum:

Quote:
"The first four pages are a list of historical processes and concepts, and events in the past aren't even mentioned and then only then right at the end do you actually get to any list of content you can actually teach. It's completely superficial - the only two events that they mention are the Holocaust and the French Revolution"


Back to Gibb's piece in the book about Hirsch:

Quote:
In History, the 2007 National Curriculum made no mention of any specific historical events aside from the two world wars and the Holocaust, and – in an explanatory note – the French Revolution and the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire.


So that seems fairly clear - skills, historical concepts but hardly any historical events. In short a knowledge-lite curriculum.

But is it true?

Another history teacher, Michael Fordham, addressed the argument put forward by Christodolou in a piece entitled In defence of the current history curriculum written in July 2013 - a full year then before Peal's attack on it.(2)

The key piece is here (my emphasis):

Quote:
Those two issues – a lack of subject specialists and a lack of curriculum time – have caused enormous problems for history teaching in England. Where schools have plenty of subject expertise and sufficient curriculum time, pupils are taught a lot of history. Where those two conditions do not exist, history is often poorly taught. In the hands of subject-specialists, with the time to do their job properly, the current curriculum is a powerful tool that engenders, rather than restricts, knowledge-rich teaching in schools. Daisy, and in this she is not alone, treated the issue far too simplistically and superficially. I have no idea whether the other subjects she covered are treated in the same way, though from the glowing reviews she has received I assume that she handled other subjects more thoroughly. The history curriculum has issues, but a lack of emphasis on knowledge is not one of them. Had Daisy argued that the curriculum was not sufficiently specific, then that would be a different matter.


To my knowledge (and a quick search on her blog reveals no find for "Fordham") Ms Christodolou has not defended her position on this.

The 2007 history curriculum is still to be found onlline (3) but here's a snapshot of part of the section on content which was dismissed by Peal as being so superficial.

Image

I find it ironic that given the current obsession with academies and their "freedom to innovate" which includes the curriculum, the three of them are so dismissive of a curriculum which does exactly what they want i.e. leaves it to teachers to decide what to teach.

A further irony that they are all fully supportive of a 'core curriculum' which Hirsch proposes but are also supportive of a school structure which allows schools to ignore the National Curriculum. Unless of course, the line is "you can devise a curriculum of your own...so long as it's the core 'knowledge-rich curriculum'.

NB I wonder whether, given that they both work at the same school now - West London Free School - whether Messrs Peal and Fordham have any discussions about the value of the 2007 history curriculum...

Having said they both work there, that's not quite true since Peal, having been there for just a year seems to have been headhunted.(4)

Image

I'm shocked, shocked etc...as usual it's not what you know but who you know and whether you're following the current line.


(1) http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/publications/category/item/knowledge-and-the-curriculum-a-collection-of-essays-to-accompany-e-d-hirsch-s-lecture-at-policy-exchange
(2) http://clioetcetera.com/2013/07/13/in-defence-of-the-current-history-curriculum/
(3) http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130123124929/http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum/secondary/b00199545/history/programme
(4) http://www.westlondonfreeschool.co.uk/Teacher-profiles/

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PostPosted: Mon 05 Oct, 2015 7:42 pm 
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Excellent stuff.

Christodolou seems to be taken fairly seriously. If she thinks not prescribing facts is the same thing as saying "facts inhibit understanding, then she's not as clever as she thinks.

She blocked me on Twitter.


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PostPosted: Mon 05 Oct, 2015 7:46 pm 
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Have posted to another place. Thanks!


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