Value of History Lessons Questioned

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The Times Educational Supplement (TES) recently reported that history lessons are increasingly viewed by head teachers as worthless. State schools are beginning to merge history with other subjects, such as geography, under ‘generic skills’ in order to make room in the curriculum for other more vocational subjects.

A survey conducted by the Historical Association of 600 schools found that a quarter were combining history with other subjects. This has been attacked by specialists who feel history is being marginalised and losing importance as a subject in its own right.

Richard Harris, a lecturer in history education at the University of Southampton and chair of the Historical Association’s committee for secondary education, told the TES that some children were getting 38 hours of teaching a year while others in schools in more affluent areas had 200 hours. Furthering this he said that:

“If you have less specialist teaching, children pick up less enthusiasm from the teacher”.

Rob Stanning, VP of academic affairs at Southampton University, was questioned on the issue of merging history with other subjects in schools and he commented that:

“I don’t think that combining history teaching with other disciplines at secondary level signifies a diminishing popularity. It echoes a move in the University sector towards curriculum broadening- an area that Southampton University is a national leader in. The Curriculum innovation project (CIP) is currently in the process of creating the infrastructure for different departments to collaborate in creating units for students.”

“When being taught History, the skills you gain are what matters on the course; the dates you learn and the events that you understand are secondary”

Upon interviewing a history student at Southampton University on the value of history as a subject they responded:

“I do appreciate history as a subject in its own right. It is really important that we understand what has shaped our society, especially events in our recent history. However it is also good because it does provide graduates with transferable skills that are key to the work place, especially when it comes to researching”.

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