Three lessons about a funeral: Second World War cemeteries and twenty years of curriculum change


By Mike Murray, published 11th February 1999

Mike Murray analyses the way in which curriculum development has broadened and strengthened our conceptions of high standards in historical learning for school students. He pays tribute to ground-breaking new theoretical principles from the Schools History Project and from new emphases upon contextual knowledge and ‘interpretations' in the first National Curriculum for history. At the same time, through practical examples of the types of lessons and pupils responses these spawned, he shows the limitations of these developments and the way in which the profession has continued to evaluate, review, debate and strengthen its practice as a result. He draws his argument together with a blueprint for a lesson in the Year 2000 - one which attends to the impending globalisation of society. The really high quality history teacher must now manage contextual knowledge of various types, attend to the rules of evidence and ensure that students understand how subsequent interpretations are constructed. Increasingly, globalisation will affect our definitions of citizenship. Mike Murray argues that history's role in education for citizenship therefore becomes doubly critical. Only through its disciplined study can pupils detect and understand the construction of national myth.

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