Build it in, don't bolt it on: history's opportunity to support critical citizenship


By Andrew Wrenn, published 10th September 1999

Andrew Wrenn offers a wide range of practical examples of the way in which National Curriculum History (and the continuation of its principles at GCSE) supports citizenship education. He focuses chiefly upon Key Element 3, ‘Interpretations', but also Key Element 4 ‘Enquiry'. He illustrates history teachers' long-established concern for the weighing of modern intepretations, and gives plentiful examples of how history teachers teach careful analysis of the identities that any interpretation represents. He shows that all such identities are historically constructed and that notions of citizenship-built around rights and duties-are inextricably linked to these constructions. Where teachers' long-term planning of Key Stage 3 history is already very effective pupils of all abilities are taught to cut through political propaganda to layers of myth and meaning. Thus history's knowledge, skills and attitudes are the friends of a critical, active, reflective citizenship.