March 14, 2013 by lambethteachers
David Cannadine is an important man. Not content with being a Princeton professor and a sometime lecturer at the New College of the Humanities (the private university that thought a mere £9000 per year fees might let the riff-raff in), he is also the chair of National Heritage’s Blue Plaques Panel. So not someone it’s wise to annoy if you value your place in posterity.
He’s also the lead author of a very useful account of the development of school history called ‘The Right Kind of History’. This uses evidence from teachers, former students, inspectors and groups such as the Historical Association to draw a picture that (like the 2011 Ofsted report that praised the standard of history teaching) bears little relationship to the Gove caricature of rigorous learning betrayed by trendy progressives. As Cannadine argues:
“we noted that there was no serious evidence to suggest there had been a recent and catastrophic decline in history teaching (and in historical knowledge) from an earlier but vanished golden age, which means in turn that the current challenge is not to try to get back to some past utopia of classroom history and historical knowledge that never in fact existed, but to try to make history teaching better in the future. Given the complex array of forces that determine the history taught in any particular classroom, what changes might best be made that might bring about such a substantial improvement? We argued that the solution is not to be found by blaming and changing the current National Curriculum. It is not perfect, but in outline, it strikes a good balance between the history of Britain and of other nations and of other parts of the world, and between broad chronological survey and in-depth study. The temptations to tinker with it, or to scrap it completely and begin again, we concluded, should be resisted”
His solution? More time to teach history. Give that man a plaque.
The full article is here: http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1228938.ece