Thursday 25 August 2011

Dumbed down: History too Hard a Subect for UK Schools

According to Graeme Paton in the Daily Torygraph this morning ("Schools 'refusing to offer GCSEs in history', figures show"):
Data published by the Department for Education shows that 159 state secondary schools failed to enter a single pupil for a history exam last summer. It suggests that the schools – collectively teaching around 150,000 children – are unable to offer it as a distinct subject in the last two years of secondary education, even if pupils have a passion for history. Separate figures also show that the overall proportion of pupils studying the subject in state comprehensives across England dropped by almost a fifth under Labour. The disclosure comes amid mounting concerns over a fall in teenagers taking a string of tough GCSEs over the last 14 years. Critics blame schools for pushing pupils onto “soft” subjects and vocational qualifications to inflate their position in school league tables.
Still, under Labour, educashun in 'istry was availble fer kid's 'oo car n't deal wiv the hard stuff like 'istry becos there challinged wiv "formal lerning" (like wot Minstr Lammy sed). After all this was the period of the floruit of that spiffing Portable Antiquities Scheme, bringing the past to everyone.
The text says: Drag the metal detector across the fields, when you hear beeping you have found something! This comes from a teaching resource provided by the Portable Antiquities Scheme and in particular a section where children can do a virtual archaeological survey and get to do their own field walking and metal detecting.
All you have to do is get the kids a Bill Wyman metal detector, get out there in the fields and find stuff and be like a real archaeologist. None of that awful "book learning", hands on history for all! As Heritage Action ("rotten elitist spoilsports" is what they are regarded as in Bloomsbury no doubt) notes though that as a result of such an "educational policy":
the resultant depletion and damage from [artefact hunting] which PAS was set up and financed to reduce [will] increase! It’s hardly rocket science to ensure children are given proper access and information about their own heritage
Obviously for the British establishment it seems to be a hard concept to get their heads around. Probably because they passed through an increasingly dumbed-down British "educational" system themselves.

Vignette: Bill Wyman (who has not yet succeeded in meeting Dorothy King), a metal detector and some nice little girls.


kyri said...

this is a sad reflection on the uk today.i sat my 13 year old son down a few weeks ago and asked him a few questions,1066,1215,pivitol moments in british history,he didnt have a clue,he dosent even know for sure who winston churchill other countrys history is one of the main subjects son attends greek school once a week,he knows about the greek-persian wars,alexander the great,byzantine,1821 the greek war of independence and the "oxi" day in 1940 when the greeks refused musolini permission to use greek bases.
personaly i think this is a big mistake in the education system.history engages the pupill,it gives them a firm base in life and an affinity with the past.on the political spectrum i consider my self a bit of a lefty but boris johnson the tory mayor of london is all for teaching latin,greek in schools and reintroducing the classics.bethany huges,the tv archaeologist is also involved as are many other classics scholars and archaeologists.i say good luck to them.
on the plus side it might deter people from digging up archaeological sites willy nilly,of course looting still goes on in greece but i would think that there hasnt got the apathy amongst the public we seem to have in the uk.

Paul Barford said...

"personally I think this is a big mistake in the education system. Pretty tragic that kids can go all the way through school without the possibility of learning anything much about it.

Or it seems very much about anything at all.

Here we are sounding like two retired colonels in a gentlemen's club reminiscing into our whisky.

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