Kids 'ignorant of Brit history' due to trendy 'skills-based' courses

Posted By: Abdul Nisar
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London, Nov 26 (ANI): Academics have said that schoolchildren are increasingly becoming ignorant of British history as teachers do away with traditional lessons in favour of trendy "skills-based" courses.

The claim was also that pupils' grasp of the past has been undermined because schools have "steadily downgraded" the importance of historical knowledge.

In a letter to Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, a delegation of academics and teachers called for history to be made compulsory up to the age of 16 to reverse a "catastrophic decline" in the subject.

They also claimed that the curriculum should be rewritten to expose children to a more coherent narrative of British history.

It was suggested that at the age of 11, pupils should learn about the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, early medieval England and the Crusades.

At 12, pupils should be taught about medieval life, the English conquest of Scotland and Wales, the 100 Years' War, the Wars of the Roses, the Renaissance, the Reformation, Elizabeth I and overseas exploration.

An education White Paper outlined plans to slim down the curriculum document and emphasise the key "bodies of knowledge" children should master at each key stage.

"We share the widespread alarm at the way history has been allowed to decline in the curriculum, with increasing numbers of children receiving less history teaching than their predecessors, or even none at all," the Telegraph quoted the Better History Group as saying in a letter.

"Our central concern is that the importance of historical knowledge has been steadily downgraded.

"In particular, we believe that the teaching of British history has been allowed to deteriorate, to such an extent that substantial numbers of young people do not have that basic grasp of this country's history that they need in order to function as informed and active adult citizens," they stated.

The group, which was originally formed to advise the Conservatives on the history curriculum in 2007, set out a series of recommendations to improve history teaching in schools.

The report suggested that children should study all main subjects, including history, geography, religious studies, music and art, throughout secondary education.

But teenagers should be able to take some at a "higher level" - part of a full GCSE course - while others contribute towards half a GCSE or are not assessed at all.

It also recommended that existing "skills" based lessons, in which students are taught to analyse and evaluate primary and secondary sources without learning historical facts, should be scrapped.

"The current nature of source-based assessment in examinations, both at GCSE and at A-level, bears little relation to actual historical practice or even to actual historical sources," said the report.

"Consequently, not only are students drilled in formulaic exercises of little practical application, but an enormous amount of time is wasted preparing them for these exercises, time which could have been better spent in extending their historical knowledge.

"Since analysis of source material is, in any case, meaningless without extensive knowledge, the lack of this renders current practice in source analysis a largely pointless exercise," it added. (ANI)

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