Pupils as apprentice historians (2)

Primary History article

By Peter Vass, published 20th March 2011

Please note: this article pre-dates the 2014 National Curriculum and some content may be outdated.

"Without knowing how the history we receive was arrived at, we can only take it as a series of mysterious assertions, which can only be learned in the sense of learning off by heart. Rote-learned history can serve only the interests of quiz contestants, it cannot be used, and is therefore useless." (Fines, pp.124-125, in Bourdillion, 1994)

Active learning - real learning

And, in the words of Monty Python, "How true these words are, even today". When John Fines wrote them back in I994, he was defending a way of teaching history that put the onus of responsibility for learning on the child and it was their engagement with investigation that provided the momentum for their historical knowledge. I make no apologies for quoting John again. "Good learning is active learning in which the children, rather than the teacher, do the work." (Fines, p.125, Bourdillon, 1994). This idea of ‘Doing History', initially proposed by Jack Hexter way back in the 70s, is very much under threat these days with so much talk of the history that children ‘need to know' to qualify them as upstanding British citizens...

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