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Sep 17, 2022 24 tweets 10 min read Read on X
OK Part 2 of my @1972SHP “things-I-wish-every-new #historyteacher was-taught” thread.

Last time we looked at how new teachers learn. Today I want to think about why we are teaching history at all. /1 Image
Marc Bloch’s “The Historian’s Craft” opens with a child’s question: “Tell me, Daddy. What is the use of history?” It is a question deceptively simple because it requires an exploration of deep truths about what history is and is for. /2 Image
At the age of 4, my own daughter asked me a similar question when I told her I trained history teachers: “Why do they want to teach history, Daddy?” Interestingly, this is the exact way I tend to open my course…by asking that question. Because purposes matter! /3
If you ask most people why they want to teach history, they will probably say something along the lines of the quotes below. History is, for many, an early warning system; or just something they find really interesting and want others to as well. /4 ImageImage
My follow up to this is normally to ask for examples. What 6 topics should all pupils know to prevent disasters in the future? Or which 6 areas of history are so fascinating that every child should know them? Many find this harder to articulate. /5
Broad purposes are all very good but they also need exploring through the concrete. It’s easier to convince someone history is worth studying if we can point to particular examples, or if we unpick what we actually mean when we talk about “mistakes” or “interest” /6
To make the point I go into a specific example and explore the purposes it might serve. I show trainee teachers the picture at the beginning of this thread and ask them why these Indignenous children, from a Canadian boarding school, should matter so much to them as teachers. /7 Image
As we explore we use source materials and testimony to explore the horrors of the boarding school system. We begin to see how teachers’ purposes to assimilate through education were the root of horrific injustices which crushed bodies and spirits. /8 ImageImage
From this trainees often assume that the story of the children in the picture matters because it shows us the power teachers have over children for both good and ill. They are right, but there is much more. Why does this matter so much to history teachers in England? /9
We go on and look at the history of Indigenous peoples from the B colonial era in Canada. At the time of the photo, the children were under siege by a British settler state. I wonder how many of us looked at residential schools in Canada in our own history lessons in the UK? /10
These children matter because they are part of a story we often fail to tell. And this is despite the fact the National Curriculum demands a coherent knowledge of Britain’s past - and by extension the people directly impacted by British colonialism, like these children. /11 Image
It is too easy to ignore this story if we are not driven by a purpose to engage with Britain’s colonial history.
From this, + associated tasks, we draw three key lessons (outlined below). What we teach matters. How we teach matters. Our purposes help us navigate this work /12 Image
So here’s an interesting exercise connected with purposes. Have a look at the National Curriculum. It opens with a set of fairly diverse purposes. Compare these to other sets of purposes, such as those enshrined in the @1972SHP principles. How similar or different are they? /13 ImageImageImageImage
Next have a look at some curriculum models. Consider how each set of purposes might cause you to approach the teaching and content quite differently. The NC purposes might lead to a study of the Crusades as a traditional causal narrative of crusader motives /14 Image
By contrast SHP principles might lead to a focus on the ways in which the crusades altered Muslim-Christian relations in the Middle Ages and beyond. Purposes fundamentally alter how we approach content. /15
What about causes of the Industrial Revolution? For most people their own experience at school would have been focused on “great men”, inventions, transportation, and internal migration. It is easy to give little thought to purposes and replicate this as teachers too. /16
But if we set out with a purpose to reveal the forces which continue to shape our present, then the causes necessarily include colonialism, enslavement, racial discrimination, dispossession etc. We need to see “the sugar at the bottom of the cup”, as Stuart Hall put it. /17 Image
If we don’t think carefully about our purposes it’s all too easy to create a narrow, white, male, upper class curriculum - not because we want to, but because we’ve not thought carefully enough to avoid it. We’ve seen this happen too often in the recent past /18 ImageImageImageImage
If you’re interested in my thoughts on why the misinterpretation of the concept of “powerful knowledge” has contributed to bringing us to that point, you can find a longer article here…
And this matters for several reasons:
First, it reproduces injustices and silences histories of the oppressed and dispossessed.
Second, it robs history of its salience and turns it into, as Alan Bennett immortalised it, “just one f*ing thing after another” /19
The same is true if we narrow ourselves to narrow performative purposes - often achieving specific exam results - which shape and guide choices more than broader purposes. Exams matter, but good education is far more than exams. /20
However, purposes and principles can also lead us astray if they are not also rooted in a concern for truth, human rights and equal dignity. They can also trio us up if we are not open to being critical about them. Purposes need deep thought and repeated revisiting /21
I doubt many today would agree with some of the purposes outlined below for example. Yet many of these purposes were commonplace in schools of the last century. We have come a long way, but the road back is much shorter if we don’t take care /22 ImageImageImage
In conclusion then, I hope that every history teacher wrestles with the purposes which drive their work, not only at the start, but throughout their careers. This soul searching, as Bloch would put it, is the only way to ensure history contributes to greater justice /22 Image

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More from @apf102

Dec 11, 2023
So after a full year of messing about @educationgovuk have decided to release more guidance on what an ITAP actually is. Always good to have more guidance when we are already interviewing for these courses! So what jumps out? /1
First, we are reminded why ITAP exists and the links to the Carter Review. What jumps out immediately is that ITAP as isolated blocks of “intensive practice” are at odds with their own evidence base – creating an artificial “other” category for learning. /2 Image
Second, it is clear that ITAP retains the notion that teaching is a hierarchical set of knowledge – a series of techniques to be learned and practiced, rather than a mixture of hierarchical and cumulative aspects which are intricately linked to specific subjects and contexts. /3 Image
Read 20 tweets
Oct 5, 2022
This year I am exploring the things I wish every new #historyteacher knew in their first years .…

In part 4 I want to talk about developing knowledge in history classrooms - something which has been a hot topic for a while. #PGCE #ECF
The ECF and CCF have quite a lot to say about how pupils learn. However much of this stops at the point of considering knowledge transfer and the role of memory. If you are not aware of these basics however it’s worth reading @mfordhamhistory in @histassoc TH166 ImageImage
Fordham is a good starting point for moving us from some generic principles about learning to something more specific about history.

Do a little task now: what have you seen great history teachers do when they develop new knowledge in class? Image
Read 25 tweets
Sep 28, 2022
NEW: Welcome to part 3 of “Things I wish every new #historyteacher knew”. Today I want to explore what all new history teachers would benefit from knowing about the way history works and how we can open this up for young people. As ever I am drawing on @1972SHP Principles 🧵🪡
Before we begin, a little exercise. If you drew a diagram to show how historical interrogations are created, what would it look like? This is a task I get trainee teachers to do every year. If we want to explain our discipline we need to have a sense of how it works.
This is not just a “nice to know”. The National Curriculum actually demands that we introduce young people to the content of history as well as the concepts which underpin it and how it operates. Fulfilling our basic duties as history teachers requires engagement here.
Read 26 tweets
Sep 8, 2022
A new year means 100s of history PGCE / ECT teachers starting prof. journeys.

Our current (& future) ITE system, means many get very limited subject specific input.

This year I’m using a @1972SHP lens to explore the core things I wish every new history teacher knew. 🧵/1
Before we get there I want to begin by thinking about how we learn as professionals, and new professionals especially. It really helps to ensure we are open to growth and less likely to run into potential barriers /2
The first thing to recognise is that professional teaching is a constant process of growth. The teacher we start out as will be substantially different to the one we develop into. Just like Ibn Battuta’s odyssey , it’s a long term journey where we need a curious & open mind /3 Image
Read 19 tweets
Jun 14, 2022
So last week my 5yo received the book commemorating the Platinum Jubilee. Govt constantly refers to “balance” in history but v little evident here. Just scratching the surface reveals why history can and should never be presented as a single, simple story. 🧵🪡
I don’t have a big prob w/ people commemorating 70yrs. But this book’s scope is wider than the life of Elizabeth II. It attempts to tell a story of the transformation of the UK from the 1950s to now - this means it carries much greater historical responsibility.
Crucially it is well presented and promises an interesting historical story. My daughter was fascinated. She asked me to read it to her at night. But the more I read, the more context I found myself having to give. My inner annaliste was nervous about the narrative.
Read 24 tweets
Apr 25, 2022
The American West has been a core GCSE topic in the UK for decades. But often the way it is taught perpetuates damaging narratives which erase Indigenous voices - much like this US example. Here are some of the things I wish I'd thought more about 16 years ago. A thread... /1 Image
Let's begin with preconceptions. This image comes from an amazing book by Philip Deloria: Indians in Unexpected Places. He shows how such an image reveals many preconceptions which shape how we think about Indigneous presence in North America. /2 Image
My own preconceptions of Native people began young and were shaped by TV westerns. I've spent a whole career unpicking them. Many teachers and students have their own preconceptions as you can see from the survey. It is often an image stuck in the C19th. /3 ImageImage
Read 25 tweets

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