Mentioning the War: does studying World War Two make any difference to pupils' sense of British achievement and identity?


By Paul Coman, published 10th September 1999

All of this edition is based on the assumption that the teaching of history can have a significant impact upon the values, views and attitudes of our pupils. But how much impact does it have and of what type? And do we ever examine that impact in order to rethink a National Curriculum emphasis or a school planning focus? Paul Coman shows that primary school pupils' study of the Second World War can have minimal impact upon their views of British national identity. However, at the same time, it can leave them with a very distorted and strange perception of British involvement in that war. He concludes by suggesting that the detail of National Curriculum rubric can over-influence teachers. In this instance it detracted from ‘a more ambitious and rounded coverage' instead of encouraging professional thinking about the best way to build wider knowledge and foster a more critical approach.

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