Friday, August 02, 2013

Making history better for everyone

In February the Department for Education (DfE) issued for consultation a revised draft national curriculum covering 12 subjects. One of these, History, probably sparked more media interest than all of the others combined. It was no surprise since History has always been the most contested subject in the curriculum; after all our history defines who we are.

Curriculum for Cohesion (CfC) is a collaboration between academics, teachers and employers that develops humanities education to improve the lives of young people in the 21st century. CfC submitted a detailed response which can be accessed via their website page.

On 8 July the DfE published a second draft of the National Curriculum, for consultation responses with a deadline of 8 August. The revised History curriculum is a considerable improvement on the February draft. It is less prescriptive and more age-appropriate. Crucially from the CfC viewpoint it is more culturally inclusive including statutory mention of some history of Islamic civilisation. It is clear that some attention has been paid to the submission and others making the same points as CfC.

As explained on the CfC page this new draft still needs some further improvement. More thought still needs to be go into how the national British history relates to the world history and how to create a ‘broader, truer history for all.’ Specifically CfC recommend:

At Key Stage 1. The list of individuals recommended for children to learn about is still too parochial and not representative of humanity’s different types of achievement. CfC suggest the inclusion of the pairing of the pioneers of medical science, Avicenna and Louis Pasteur.

At Key Stage 2. CfC suggest that Cordoba, c. AD800-1200 is added to Baghdad as an exemplar of early Islamic civilisation.

At Key Stage 3. In order to bring out the force of ‘interconnections’ in the unit title, CfC suggest that the Ottoman Empire, 1490-1922 be added as a world history option. Study of the Ottoman Empire is highly relevant to the study of Britain and Europe in both the early modern and modern periods.

The CfC home page lists a glittering array of people supporting CfC, and other pages detail the academic team, patrons and partner institutions.

Readers are encouraged to respond to the DfE by 8 August as CfC believe it is very important to have as many voices as possible making these points.

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