Gove on Question Time

(133 Posts)
ipadquietly Fri 22-Mar-13 20:17:47

What a disappointment on so many levels:
1. The panel was totally ignorant about the details of the new curriculum, and, because of this, could only play lip service to Gove.
2. No-one in the audience made any points to challenge Gove. Indeed the only teacher to make a comment happened to work in an independent school which didn't have to follow the curriculum.
3. The challenges from the panel were anecdotal - Horowitz harping on about the parlous state of literacy; one of the women (?) harping on about being a school governor but seemingly knowing nothing about the new curriculum and the labour woman spouting anecdotes about her children (I mean.... politician on Question Time spouting anecdotes about her children shock) with zero political argument.

It gave the slimy little toad a chance to speak crap and get an almost standing ovation.

I could have screamed.

bluescissors Mon 25-Mar-13 14:31:26

Rabbit - what Xenia has described (cave men, egyptians, celts, romans, tudors, victorians, industrial revolution) was covered by my DC in years 3-6. CE syllabus as detailed by her in years 7/8. So agree with your point that better split this way but there is a place for chronology, dates, kings, queens, understanding the link between church and state etc.

Hamish - I personally am a homework fan. My kids just get on with it and I do believe it backs up what they do at school, if it is relevant and well set, as well as marked and feedback given to the DC - I would not be a fan of word searches etc, and I hate a science experiment to do at home as much as the next person!. I don't tolerate whining and fights. If they don't do it they get into trouble at school. There's lots in life I don't want to do - IMO, the sooner DCs in this day and age realise they have to just get on with it and stop being so entitled to being the centre of their own universe, the better.....rant over! I realise I will get flamed for this opinion on MN!

Yellowtip Mon 25-Mar-13 14:32:14

rabbit all schools will have to follow the syllabus prescribed by the exam boards though, in order to pass the exams!

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 14:57:40

Yes, but Yellowtip, so far as I'm aware, there are no plans to introduce public history exams for children in year 6. So if I don't like the idea of them learning about the Stone Age in reception and working chronologically through to whatever it is in year 6, then surely I can avoid that by going private or sending my children to an academy school?...

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 15:03:07

Ah, I see they start learning about the Stone Age at age 7 and work their way on from there.

Yellowtip Mon 25-Mar-13 15:05:15

You can avoid it rabbit, if you select a school which departs from the NC. Many don't, or only tinker. And departures are even less likely after Y6 I'd have thought?

rabbitstew Mon 25-Mar-13 15:22:19

bluescissors - I entirely agree that there is a place for chronology. As I gather new knowledge on a daily basis, I need somewhere to pin it in my mind, so most definitely need a framework. I also need a good awareness of how countries are placed geographically and politically. I entirely disagree that the way to develop an understanding of all this is to start teaching ancient British history at age 7 and methodically plod your way through to the current day over a period of many years, however. That just seems so boring and not the best way of developing the framework everyone needs: there is just too much scope for it to be done badly. I would rather a good teacher did it differently than a bad teacher followed it to the prescriptive letter and mangled the message for everyone. It just smacks of trying to tell those who can't teach what to do, as though that it will make them better teachers not to have any choice in the matter, and chasing away those who can teach, because they don't agree with the approach.

Elibean Mon 25-Mar-13 15:30:10

Well said, rabbit - I suspect therein lies the crux, unfortunately.

The bad teachers will be drawn to Gove's prescriptions and the good teachers are tearing their hair out, and may run a mile sad

muminlondon Mon 25-Mar-13 16:32:19

rabbitstew, very good points and you've put your finger on what Gove and his advisers are doing here. Yes, history in context, with a long view and a narrative, and an awareness of geography, etc. - all of that is motivating and important. And learning times tables and spelling tests have their place and already happen.

But what he is actually proposing is cherry picking, being prescriptive and controlling. He is setting up false debates and I don't think he even bothers to listen to the response. If you disagree you're just a leftie Trot (hilarious if you voted LibDem at the last election!). He's rubbing his hands with glee at being able to brand teachers the 'enemy'. But he's like a dictatorial political zealot - he dangles one idea in front of you which few would disagree with, then escalates the argument in a very subjective and confrontational way without evidence or consensus. When he first proposed the Ebacc as a measure in the league tables I thought it was a positive step towards encouraging a better take-up in languages. Then suddenly it's Mandarin and Latin from the age of 7. It's confusing, elitist and completely unrealistic as an aspiration for all schools given the lack of such specialisms and time available. And it's the same for the draft history curriculum in its current form.

muminlondon Mon 25-Mar-13 18:02:56
ipadquietly Mon 25-Mar-13 19:25:40

Surely anyone who thinks we should teach history chronologically from the age of 7 to all children, of any ability, is mad? How is that going to instil a love of history? I totally agree with someone who said that history in their 1970s secondary put them off - endless dictation - all in chronological order. It is only since becoming a primary school teacher and focussing on the social history, the art, the culture and the quirky details that I began to find the subject fascinating.

How do you think we're going to teach the 'heptarchy' to 9 year olds? 'By colouring a map,' I hear you answer. Tell that to the children, who, at the moment, learn about periods of history by role play, making costumes, firing weapons on the field, cooking and celebratiions, etc, etc, etc.

The whole idea is dreadful. Who says that prep schools have been doing it right all along? WHY should children from 7-11 be bored silly by an over-crowded curriculum which is completely beyond their frame of reference and internal sense of chronology? They are young children, who should be enjoying learning about the world.

In addition, there are children with real learning problems who will have to sit through these lessons. I have an idea what might happen then.... but I guess capital punishment would solve that little pesky problem.

Also..... I also think they really should have included Australia in the geography curriculum. It's very rude to leave it out.

Copthallresident Mon 25-Mar-13 23:19:15

Gove's "paranoid outburst" as Suzanne Moore puts it is beyond bizarre, it smacks of desperation when he is prepared to badmouth (or even you might say invoke MacCarthy) against even those who once advised him. Steven Mastin, head of history at a Cambridge school, who worked alongside historian Simon Schama as an adviser to Gove on the curriculum, said the end product bore "no resemblance" to drafts he worked on as late as last month. Mastin, a fan of Gove's aim for greater rigour, said the proposed version that emerged from the education department tragically failed to offer children the broad and balanced education the education secretary had promised. Something had gone terribly wrong. www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/feb/16/historians-gove-curriculum?intcmp=239

Xenia Wed 27-Mar-13 10:26:29

I don't thi the prep schools are doing it wrong as our private schools seems to be the best schools on the planet and the 8% in them get half the best university places make up most of the best jobs in the UK, 80% of judges etc etc. Perhaps the only area of education which gets it right are the prep school and senior private schools one might argue.

rabbitstew Wed 27-Mar-13 11:15:50

Best schools on the planet?! grin I can see that if people come out of these schools with that view and the "best" employers all came from the same schools and universities, that this would be a self-perpetuating myth. Such a fine line between snobbery and self-confidence.

Elibean Wed 27-Mar-13 11:47:26

Define 'best' wink

Copthallresident Wed 27-Mar-13 11:53:06

Xenia DDs' Prep and Secondary, amongst best in country and so presumably planet hmm did not study History in the way proposed by Gove in any way, shape or form. Perhaps that is because they were anxious to teach their pupils in the way that best suited and inspired them. Years 7 and 8 were devoted to the experience of pupils at their school, from the 18th century on, to their involvement in political movements and wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries including studying the primary sources and then even transcribing the accounts of those still living as rigorous historical records. Then straight into a detailed study of one of those political movements with the requirement to start producing essays that demonstrated that they had develop an understanding of all the perspectives on the issue and the ability to produce a piece of work with a structure and argument as they would be required to do at GCSE. I was deeply impressed with both the extent it challenged and inspired, perhaps not a curriculum suited to mixed ability and gender, but that is the point of not being overly prescriptive. I am guessing NLCS would have a similar approach, having a similar profile of pupils. My DDs current Head is making it clear they have no intention of changing their approach to teaching History to the one proposed by Gove because for their pupils it would not be inspiring or the best way in which to enable them to develop historical skills.

It was why, when I was asked to help inspire a friend's DD who was struggling with the Common Entrance History Syllabus, I was so appalled at the perpetuation of the same dreadful boring history of powerful white men and battles date by date that I had been subjected to in my 70s Grammar School. It may work taught by some rousing History master to a gang of hormonally challenged prepubescent schoolboys but it most certainly will not work everywhere.

Others better qualified than me have highlighted all the constraints on it's application in state schools, the constraints of covering that depth and range in the timetabled time available, the lack of tailoring to mixed ability, different ages etc etc etc What you teach in a History curriculum and with what aim is always going to be controversial which is why it should be a process of arriving at a consensus about what works in schools and what best prepares students, and inspires them to study at the higher level, not the political agenda of one sad white man who looks back at the past through rose tinted glasses.

But then what do I know, I am a Marxist apparently grin
.

ipadquietly Wed 27-Mar-13 18:55:43

I'll bet my bottom dollar that the children in my class, who are dressing up, role playing, making collages, re-enacting battle scenes, making models,etc have more fun than the poor little buggers in a xenia school reciting their dates (chronologically, of course) and learning their kings and queens (British, of course).

The new curriculum is written by white men who have turned their backs on our multi-cultural society; who are ignoring our SEN children and their needs, and who have no idea how to enthuse young children (or their teachers).

Christina Rossetti is not the best choice of 'creative genius' for 6 and 7 year olds!
I dream of you, to wake: would that I might
Dream of you and not wake but slumber on;
Nor find with dreams the dear companion gone,
As, Summer ended, Summer birds take flight.
Huh? hmm

Xenia Wed 27-Mar-13 19:01:37

Common entrance do not learn loads off by heart or at least mine never did although they do as a part of geography example learn their global locations which is capitals around the world, countries etc and I think that is really useful to know but that is just part of the syllabus. As these schools do better than any others and even the richest of the Chinese from abroad fight for places in them we can be pretty sure they are doing a lot better than your average UK state primary.

Copthallresident Wed 27-Mar-13 19:23:45

Xenia The rich Chinese come to this country for a western education, one that is not just dry regurgitated facts, but embraces analysis, empathy and creativity, If they want the former, they can get it at home, and at least it would be their ruler's version of History, not our ruler's version of ours, even if they are supposedly Marxist (about as much as I am!)

wordfactory Wed 27-Mar-13 20:49:11

The rich chinese come to the UK for a very specific type of independent education.

The more rigour the better.

Copthallresident Wed 27-Mar-13 21:17:00

word There are elite and rigorous schools in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. However the elite seek a western education that will confer status (ie the most valued being Winchester for boys and Wycombe Abbey for girls), confer good Guanxi (status / networking) and equip their children to operate between east and west. In Hong Kong and Singapore particularly there is criticism that the education system does not foster innovation and creativity and therefore is not providing students with the skills they need to succeed in a global economy.

This is what Wycombe Abbey offers it's girls in the way of a History curriculum www.wycombeabbey.com/academic-excellence/History.php

"^The History Department seeks to foster a love of the subject throughout the School. We teach in a lively and stimulating way, allowing all students, with all their different skills and abilities, to flourish. Each of our classrooms has an interactive whiteboard and we use a variety of approaches, including ICT, to enable students to acquire the skills of critical thinking, innovation of approach and independent learning. Our aim is to foster the skills of analysis, research and essay writing, evaluation of a variety of sources and an awareness of the historical process.^"

"^Year 7-9

History is compulsory in Year 7-9. Students have the opportunity to explore continuity and change in Britain and the world from the earliest medieval times to 1918. The course aims to explore concepts of cause and consequence, change and continuity, and examines the nature of the revolution in different societies and periods. Girls are taught a range of skills, including source evaluation and essay writing, and are encouraged to form independent opinions about the significance of past events. Key subjects are medieval kingship and ordinary life in Year 7, and the consequences of the idea of re-birth during the Renaissance in Year 8. In Year 9 we examine the concepts of political, economic, industrial and social change and study the forces driving these changes. We explore the background to some significant issues which are still faced by Europe today, such as the troubles in the Balkans and aim to ease the transition to GCSE studies by considering the causes of the First World War, and events on the Western Front 1914-1918.^"

Note the emphasis on skills, on understanding different societies and periods. It is most definitely NOT what Gove is proposing.

Yellowtip Wed 27-Mar-13 22:03:58

Hello word, I notice you haven't contributed to the substance of the convo on Gove and his proposed curriculum changes. So what's your take on the academic objections linked to here? The History stuff has been interesting - once you get past the sound bites about rigour etc. there's more to it, wouldn't you say?

Xenia Thu 28-Mar-13 12:20:52

The Chinese are not clamouring to have a state school UK education and British leaders and those who succeed tend to be those who have studied in private schools. Anyway my link to the common entrance history syllabus seemed helpful.

Children in private schools do GCSE or iGCSE but that will be in addition to what they learned for common entrance or its equivalent and usually they do not follow the national curriculum.

rabbitstew Thu 28-Mar-13 13:10:08

Are GCSEs in no way linked to the National Curriculum? How very silly.

Copthallresident Thu 28-Mar-13 13:24:39

Interestingly Xenia that syllabus has changed in the five years since I supported a DD through it. She had to contend with exactly what military strategies were employed at Stamford Bridge and Hastings which frankly, if you are going to argue that wanting to teach social history is Marxism is akin to Fascism (except I think military history has as much validity and value as social history, just not to it's exclusion) . So the CE has developed in the last five years, clearly in response to the ways it is now studied and examined at the higher levels, as it mirrors GCSE, and from what I can see of the topics they would set you up well for that, but Gove wants to take History in state schools back to an even earlier current state? What Gove proposes for state school NC for Years 7-9 is in no way akin to that CE syllabus. It is a high speed romp through events in Britain since Victoria with some empire centric excursions into India and the like, P169 on here media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/n/national%20curriculum%20consultation%20-%20framework%20document.pdf The worry is what he will then put into place for the GCSE. As the Head at Magdalen College said of Gove's Education Policy "The goalposts are being shifted but not necessarily by someone with a valid GPS"

History teachers, private and state, and academics alike are unanimously aghast at these proposals. Our subject has developed so much in the last forty years into a truly rigorous study of our past in all it's dimensions, the GCSE is acknowledged as one of the most demanding and rigorous but it's challenge is embraced by a lot of pupils who are motivated by the way they have been taught. No one is saying that teaching can't be improved and the way it is taught shouldn't develop in response to the way the subject and society evolves but Gove is a luddite, and pursuing a Maoist project to "own " History at that.

The Chinese, by which you mean overseas Chinese, do not clamour after a state school education because they do not qualify, those who live here are more than well represented in selective state schools. Overseas Chinese do clamour after the status of any sort of UK education, the market is segmented, and whilst only the brightest and well prepared can get into the schools that they attach the greatest status to, at the other end of the market there are also indifferent private schools who are in no way a match for the best state schools, selective and non selective, that survive on the basis of exploiting the demand from the less bright and the less well prepared. I could name names but their (largely overseas) private equity owners would doubtless sue me, but they are actually a national embarrassment...

Xenia Thu 28-Mar-13 16:34:06

Yet if it is free market and those overseas Chinese who cannot get into Eton etc feel they still get enough out of a school for less bright children surely the market decides. If no advantage is conferred then pupils will not be drummed up.

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