Education, Education, Education

ted_bloody_maul

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#31
My school's house system was named after famous sea battles of the first world war although nobody knew which house they were in. The concept of the house system seemed to have long been abandoned by educational evolution by then, simply continuing to exist as pointlessly as a man's nipples into the then present day.
 

CarlosTheDJ

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#32
I was based at the Farnborough campus of Surrey University in 1996, and our halls of residence were ex-RAF barracks on the edge of the airfield (yes, the one they use for the Farnborough Airshow).

Each hall was named after the most famous pilot to reside there in previous years.

I lived in Lawrence Hall....named after Lawrence Of Arabia! I like to think he had my room.
 

rynner2

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#33
Are degrees worth the paper they're printed on?
Once, a university education was a passport to a brighter future, a better-paid career, a life of privilege. But after a decade and a half of massive expansion in our higher education system, the 'gold standard' qualification is losing its lustre. Is it time for a rethink?

By Esther Walker
Monday, 8 September 2008

University has never been more popular. This month, record numbers of people will be attending freshers' weeks, with figures up 9.1 per cent on last year, according to Ucas. Indeed, this summer, nearly half a million final-year university students received their degree results. But the sound of popping champagne corks will have been muted by the grim reality of what a degree from a British university is worth today. The time when a degree entitled you to a better job and higher social status have long gone.

A report by Kent University published last week found that one third of graduates from the class of 2003 earn no extra money as a result of their qualification. The degree classification system has been called "rotten", the Student Loans Company has been described as "incompetent", and graduate salaries rose last year by only 1.8 per cent – the smallest increase in years – while the new £3,000-per-year tuition fees mean than some middle-income students will finish with debts of £30,000.

All in all, the class of 2008 would be forgiven for feeling pretty depressed.

[...history...]

Professor Geoffrey Alderman, the academic formerly in charge of standards at University of London, believes that the consequence of high government access targets is the devaluation of the degree.

"Personally, I think the idea of giving 50 per cent of 18 to 30-year-olds a higher education experience is wonderful, but it was electioneering. The way that this target is going to be achieved is by encouraging more Further Education colleges to apply for university status. The end result will be that the government can say that it has all these people who have gone to something called a university and have something called a degree. But no one will be fooled."

The problem, he adds, has been made worse by grade inflation. "As with all commodities, the more of them there are, the less value people put on it. A university that gives out a lot of Firsts and Upper Seconds might initially find they attract a lot of students, but in the long term, employers aren't going to be very interested in your qualification if it's from a certain type of university, one that is known to award a lot of Firsts and Upper Seconds. The quality of the degree will be perceived to be low."

Indeed, Bob Burgess, the vice-chancellor of Leicester University, recommended last year that all students be given a transcript of their marks, to help employers assess their achievement more than by degree class alone. Most London-based barrister chambers also now ask to see finals transcripts as a matter of course, as they see so many applicants with Firsts.

Perhaps the cruellest aspect of channelling more people into higher education is that it is the students with least privileged backgrounds (who might benefit the most from the social mobility of having a degree) who suffer. Of the third of graduates whose degree made no difference to their starting salary, most were from polytechnics or other new universities, where drop-out rates are also higher.

At London Metropolitan, London South Bank, Middlesex and Thames Valley universities, just over a quarter of students fail to complete their degree. This year, half of the student body at Bolton University dropped out, up on 43 per cent the previous year. Twenty per cent of graduates from a new university say they would rather not have gone to university, which is an increase of 5 per cent in two years.

And even students at the Russell Group of universities (which includes Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and Edinburgh) are dissatisfied. One in five thinks they chose the wrong degree course and one in 10 thinks they should have chosen a different university altogether.

"All universities are striving to hit targets," says a senior lecturer in a British university, who did not want to be named. "The government sets targets and universities are judged not just by their academic output but by their ability to hit targets. If you can hit your target, you can get more money. So the more students you attract, the more money you get. Universities have an in-built incentive to maximise their numbers. Sometimes quality falls by the wayside.

"Universities were originally conceived to deal with those who had an enquiring mind; those who wanted university to extend them intellectually. The modern university is much more of a hothouse; a lot are just churning people through their degrees.

"The drop-out rates come when people who are ill-prepared and ill-suited for university life are encouraged to go, and then find the whole experience expensive and disappointing."

The policy of driving people hard towards higher education makes those who do not achieve it feel like losers, despite the fact that university might not be the right place for them.

And the financial debt from university is turning from an inconvenience into a considerable burden that many bear well into their thirties.

[..history of fees..]

"We are approaching a system that crudely copies the American system of further education," adds Professor Alderman. "But we are getting there by accident and I would rather see it planned."

etc...

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/educa ... 22410.html
 

rynner2

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#34
And after maths, we have magic tricks! Harry Potter-style lessons 'boost children's confidence'
By David Derbyshire
Last updated at 12:02 AM on 12th September 2008

Children should be taught magic tricks in schools to boost their confidence and self-discipline, researchers say.

A study found that an hour lesson at a 'magic school' did more good for a group of 10 to 12-year-olds than their normal 'life skills' classes.

Prof Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at Hertfordshire University who carried out the study, called for magic to be included on the national curriculum.

'Learning magic requires self-discipline, an understanding of how other people think and an ability to entertain,' he said.

'Also, unlike playing computer games, it encourages children to interact with their friends and family.

'Because of this, we thought it might be a unique and effective way of developing an important set of psychological skills.'

Most schoolchildren are given weekly lessons in Personal Health and Social Education classes.

The classes include sessions designed to boost children’s self-esteem and confidence, improve their relationships and have respect for others.

Prof Wiseman, a member of the Magic Circle and former professional magician, tested the effects of a magic lessons on 60 pupils aged 10 and 12 from two schools in Hertfordshire.

Half the pupils spent an hour in a 'magic school', learning how to do two simple tricks – restoring a rope that has been cut in half and reading someone’s mind by correctly naming a card chosen from a pack at random.

They were told to practise the tricks repeatedly and given tips on how to present them.

The rest attended a normal PHSE class where teachers tried to boost their self-confidence and respect levels with stories, role plays and discussions.

Using a questionnaire, the psychologists assessed the children before the lessons, immediately afterwards and two weeks later.

Although both lessons boosted the children’s confidence and sociability, the magic lessons were far more effective, Prof Wiseman told the British Association science festival in Liverpool.

Shy children with the lowest self-esteem got the most benefit, he found.

The effects lasted for at least two weeks after the lesson – and if lessons are repeated could last for much longer.

In carry out the tricks successfully, the children had to practice repeatedly – which developed their self-discipline and concentration.

They had to learn how to present the tricks to a class, boosting their confidence.

And they also had to think carefully about how their audience would see their performance – and avoid giving the tricks away. That encouraged empathy and social skills.

Prof Wiseman stressed that magic lessons should not replace conventional lessons in reading, writing, maths and science.

But he believes children could occasionally be taught magic in PHSE using interactive DVDs.

'There’s no suggesting that schools should devote huge resources and time to magic tricks, but it is one avenue that’s worth exploring.'

Parents can also help develop children’s confidence and self-discipline by encouraging magic in the home, he said.

Co-researcher Rebecca Godfrey said: 'It is early days yet, but these results are very encouraging and we hope that this approach can be used to develop new and exciting ways of reaching out to these children.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... dence.html
 

lupinwick

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#35
Does indeed sound interesting and perhaps beneficial....

However this could go any number of ways..

Creationism and intelligent design should be taught in school science lessons, according to a leading expert in science education.

The Rev Prof Michael Reiss, director of education at the Royal Society, said that excluding alternatives to scientific explanations for the origin of life and the universe from science lessons was counterproductive and would alienate some children from science altogether.

He said that around one in 10 children comes from a family with creationist beliefs. "My experience after having tried to teach biology for 20 years is if one simply gives the impression that such children are wrong, then they are not likely to learn much about the science," he said.

"I think a better way forward is to say to them 'look, I simply want to present you with the scientific understanding of the history of the universe and how animals and plants and other organisms evolved'."
Professor Michael Reiss on teaching science to creationists
Link to this audio

Reiss said he used to be an "evangelist" for evolution in the classroom, but that the approach had backfired. "I realised that simply banging on about evolution and natural selection didn't lead some pupils to change their minds at all. Now I would be more content simply for them to understand it as one way of understanding the universe," he said.

Reiss, who is an ordained Church of England minister, told the British Association Festival of Science in Liverpool that science teachers should not see creationism as a "misconception" but as an alternative "world view". He added that he was not advocating devoting the same time to teaching creationism or intelligent design as to evolution.
Source
 

rynner2

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#36
Number of university students gaining first-class degrees up by 50 per cent in a decade
By Laura Clark
Last updated at 12:06 AM on 16th September 2008

The proportion of students gaining first-class degrees has risen by 50 per cent in a decade, a report shows today.

Figures reveal that at least one institution gave its highest accolade to 35 per cent of scholars.

The average university awarded firsts to 12 per cent of students in 2007 - up from 8 per cent in 1999.

Elite institutions appear to be increasing their share of top degrees faster than less prestigious rivals.

Student enrolments have also risen by 30 per cent over the past decade, which has allowed some undergraduates to enter courses with poor A-level grades.

Rising overall student numbers have not diminished the proportion of top-class degrees granted - rather it has increased over the same period.

'There has been a noticeable increase in the proportion of students awarded a first- class degree from 1998-99 to 2006-07,'

said the report, by Professor Brian Ramsden for the Universities UK umbrella group.


'Institutions at the upper end of the scale show the greatest level of increase, ie some institutions that have historically awarded a high percentage of first- class degrees have increased their proportion.'

The analysis also shows that 10 per cent of universities give firsts to a fifth of students while some bestow the honour on only 3 per cent.

The combined total of firsts and 2.1s has risen from 53 per cent in 1999 to 59 per cent.

First-class degrees have traditionally been reserved for students who showed an exceptional breadth of original work.

The study suggested that trends such as a shift away from final exams towards continuous assessment on some degree courses are contributing to grade inflation.

The report, which examined a range of changing trends in universities over ten years, also revealed that subjects classed as 'mass communications and documentation', have boomed.

Including media studies and information science, these subjects have attracted 130 per cent more students.

Meanwhile, the number of universities teaching physics has dropped 20 per cent since 1998 - and chemistry 13 per cent - due to dwindling popularity among students.

While the remaining physics and chemistry departments are tutoring more students than before, academics are concerned that some parts of the country are becoming science 'deserts'.

.......

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... ecade.html
 

rynner2

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#37
1 in 3 graduates not repaying student loans
Polly Curtis, education editor
The Guardian, Monday October 6 2008

A third of students who started university since fees were introduced in 1998 are earning too little to make repayments on their loans, ministers have admitted.

Nearly 400,000 graduates have not made repayments on their loans up to seven years after they graduated because they are not yet earning above the £15,000 threshold. It comes amid concerns that graduates now face the toughest time in a generation as firms cut down on recruitment in the credit crunch.

Students leaders are warning that the promise of cheap loans to pay for fees has all but evaporated, with the RPI, the rate of inflation, running at 4.8%.

Official figures, released in response to a parliamentary question from the Liberal Democrats, suggest that the financial return on the £20,000 debt most students graduate with is slow to arrive. Ministers claim graduates earn up to £100,000 more over their lifetime, but figures show that up to seven years after graduating a third are not yet making repayments.

Of the 1,237,300 students who still had money outstanding on loans taken out since fees were introduced, 384,300 had not begun repaying the loans at all.

Stephen Williams, the Lib Dem spokesman for universities, said: "As the financial crisis worsens the burden on new graduates is going to be even greater."

Wes Streeting, president of the National Union of Students, said that 4.8% added to loans to account for inflation made a "myth" of the promise that the loans were cheap for students. One graduate who received her annual statement last week said she had paid £650 in the last year on a £12,000 debt, but after the RPI was added had paid off only £70 of her original loan.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2008/oc ... .education

Too much damn education. The country doesn't need so many graduates.
And I bet a lot of them now wish they hadn't bothered.
 

rynner2

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#38
I find this very disturbing:

Schools are churning out the unemployable
Harriet Sergeant

The latest unemployment figures are a shocker. Eight million adults are “economically inactive”. That means one in five people of working age does not have a job. A new and expanding group, poignantly described as “discouraged” workers, have even given up looking.

They are right to be discouraged but wrong that there is no work. A report out on Friday points out that a fifth of firms and a quarter of employers in the state sector are still hiring — despite the recession. Except they are taking on migrant workers — not our home-grown “discouraged” variety.

The managing director of a medium-sized IT company explained why. High-flyers — Oxford and Cambridge graduates — are still as good as any in the world. His problems come when he tries to recruit middle management. Last year he interviewed 52 graduates — all educated in state schools. On paper they looked “brilliant students”. Each had three As at A-level and a 2:1 degree. He shook his head. “There’s a big difference between people passing exams and being ready for work.”

This was obvious even before the interview began. Of the 52 applicants, half arrived late. Only three of the 52 walked up to the managing director, looked him in the eye, shook his hand and said, “Good morning.” The rest “just ambled in”. When he asked them to solve a problem, only 12 had come equipped with a notebook and pencil.

The three who had greeted him proved the strongest candidates and he hired them. Within a year they were out because of their “lackadaisical” attitude. They did not turn up on time; for the first six months a manager had to check all their emails for spelling and grammar; they did not know how to learn. It was the first time they had ever been asked to learn on their own. Their ability to “engage in business” was “incredibly” disappointing and “at 5.30 on the dot they left the office”.


This year the managing director has joined the 20% of companies recruiting overseas. “We are an English company but we have no English staff. It’s just too much trouble,” he said.

It is the same story with employers at every level in the UK. Sir Terry Leahy, the chief executive of Tesco, put it bluntly. Too many children have been leaving school after 11 or 13 years of compulsory education “without the basic skills to get on in life and hold down a job”. He said 5m adults were functionally illiterate and 17m could not add up properly. “On-the-job training” cannot act as a “bandage or sticking plaster” for “the failure of our education system”.

A CBI survey revealed that literacy and numeracy were not the only problems. More than 50% of employers complained that young people were inarticulate, unable to communicate concisely, interpret written instructions or perform simple mental calculations.

This goes a long way to explain why, of the 1.7m jobs created since 1997, 81% have gone to foreign workers. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) agrees with Leahy. UK citizens are on the dole because of “issues around basic employability skills, incentives and motivation”. It is a pity it has not passed that insight on to the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The DWP has made it clear: work is where the inflated claims for our state education finally hit the buffers. At every stage we have a system in which the expediency of politicians and the ideology of the educational establishment take precedence over the interests of pupils.

We have children who can barely read and write scoring high marks in their Sats because it makes the school, and therefore politicians, look good. We have exam boards competing to offer the lowest pass mark because it allows heads to fulfil their GCSE targets. We have pupils pushed into easy subjects at A-level — which excludes them from applying to a top university — because it benefits the school. And we have universities that offer a 2:1 degree, as the IT company director put it, to “anyone who bothers to sit down and take the exam”.


On top of that is the attitude of the staff themselves. I was visiting schools to discover why so many black Caribbean and white working-class boys were failing. One reason soon became obvious. Their teachers, middle class themselves, failed to pass on those very values that had allowed them to progress in life.

They viewed inculcating attributes such as lucidity, spelling, grammar, punctuality and manners as “patronising”. They feared anything that smacked of the didactic. “I am not a teacher. I am a facilitator,” said one teacher primly. The head of another school insisted she was a “head learner” rather than a headmistress.

etc....

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 034975.ece
 

Yithian

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#39
rynner said:
1 in 3 graduates not repaying student loans
Polly Curtis, education editor
The Guardian, Monday October 6 2008
I'll be the first in line to criticise our nation's education system, but it is true that student loans are so good in terms of interest (inflation-only) that they would naturally be the last thing to be repaid. I know a good number of people in a technical-position to repay who have been creative with the truth as they have more pressing financial obligations and student loans are not pressing debts.
 

danny_cogdon

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#40
Livy......??? Is that you off ITL? Gaz?

Forgive me if I'm wrong but your Username is so similar to someone I used to know!
 

OneWingedBird

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#41
are still as good as any in the world. His problems come when he tries to recruit middle management
why the hell would anyone try and recruit graduates into middle management anyway? surely you'd want someone with some life experience? though i suppose for some of the middle management i've had in my time, you probably couldn't have got them that good if you purposely recruited clueless b*stards.

whatever they've got to say about a proportion of the population being unemployable, i'm looking for work atm and the competition is tight enough, it sure as hell isn't functional illiterates i'm up against. and employers are unwilling to train and asking for some very specific things, so they clearly think (i suspect correctly) they can get them.
 

Quake42

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#42
why the hell would anyone try and recruit graduates into middle management anyway? surely you'd want someone with some life experience?
Yeah, I thought this sounded a bit suspect. Brand new graduates don't become managers. Other aspects of the story didn't quite ring true. I find it hard to believe that only 3 candidates said hello and shook hands... unless he was doing some weird power-tripping thing where he didn't greet interviewees and left them feeling unsure what they were meant to be doing or whether they were even in the right place. And I don't even know what "engage in business" is supposed to mean. If he means "do some work", why not say that? Why use such a meaningles piece of jargonese which even the sympathetic journalist finds necessary to put in inverted commas?

Having said that, there are clearly quite a large number of under 30s who struggle with basic literacy and the blame for this sorry state of affairs can be laid squarely with a reluctance amongst teachers to correct poor spelling and grammar.

However, there's something grating about these articles, which surface whenever we have a recession and seem intended (a) to imply that the unemployed are responsible for their situation and (b) to reassure everyone else that they will never find themselves out of work because they can spell and will look an interviewer in the eye
 

rynner2

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#43
GCSE science guide ignores biology, chemistry and physics
Education chiefs have issued a guide to teaching science that fails to mention biology, chemistry or physics.
By Ben Leach
Published: 8:09AM GMT 04 Mar 2010

The traditional subjects are instead called “organisms and health”, “chemical and material behaviour” and “environment, Earth and universe”. :roll:

The six-page GCSE curriculum document was uncovered by the Tories. Shadow schools minister accused the Government of trying to “dumb down” science teaching.

He said: "It is crazy that the science curriculum for 16-year-olds does not even mention the words physics, chemistry or biology.

"The Government has devalued the curriculum and exam system. Private schools are shifting to international exams.

"We will make the curriculum and exam system globally respected - as it used to be."

The guide was issued to teachers by the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Authority, according to The Sun.

It says pupils should be taught the "knowledge, skills and understanding of how science works.”

A QCDA spokeswoman said physics, chemistry and biology are not being ignored.

She said: "QCDA develops the science curriculum, working closely with schools, the science community and employers.

"The curriculum covers the broad areas of modern science and the different paths young people can follow, while providing a thorough grounding in chemistry, physics and biology."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/ed ... ysics.html
 
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#44
Here are some gems from exam papers by 1st & 3rd yr uni students. Passed on to me by a friend.

Yo Pat, Just about finished marking and so decided to share the pearls of wisdom I’ve been reading from Ireland's future leaders. Most (but not all) of the truly strange ones aren’t from my students. Either that or they’ve failed to turn up for classes, hopefully.
Enjoy
David



First we have the statements on world and Irish politics.

The French, with a long-standing monarchy are very assimilationist.

Take France for example, this country has long been associated with racism and antisemetic beliefs due to its deep rooted republican politics.

In places such as Africa, theyre economy is week due to very little information. This is a result of lack of education.

The Internation Migration Organisation, states the majority of female immigrants are prostitutes.


The European union for all its “progression” is highly Conservative and slightly left wing.

We [Ireland] luckily haven’t been the victim of any terrorist attacks so we have no official policy on terrorists.

It is argued by Lentin (2007) that, the first migrants came to Ireland in 1935.
[I love this for its precision]



Then the Sociology


Due to the large amount of ‘black’ people in the UK, cultures have been divided into Sub-cultures. There are several differing kind of Sub-culture. They are often referred to as teeny-boppers, rastafarians and proliterians.

'Although I identify myself as white and that is unlikely to change, there are those whose racial identity is fluid enough to change from day to day. This is the case in Brazil. You may start the day as one race but from a day in the sun and, as a result, darker skin your race may be considered different from when the day began.' [this one comes from a colleague's exam papers]

Another factor that affects immigrants is the Irish Governments discourse policy.

THE MUSLIM IDEA OF WOMEN AS OPPRESSIVE IS SEEN AS BACKWARD AND INFERIOR TO THAT OF THE WESTERN VIEW.

According to “Marx” poorer people were more involved in crime, alcohol and drug abuse which was again a negotiated identity.




[Then there’s the more philosophical ones]:

Men’s dominant role in history meant they socialized less.

A person identity is an important factor in determining who they are.

Identity is a common problem with which people without fixed addresses struggle daily.

As oppose to the ‘old days’ the space between distance and time is now compressed.

I would like to question here how much of a role we play in our own lives?



And my two favourites:

‘There is no analysis or interrogation needed for this theory, it is powerful in its simplicity.’

‘Marx was extreme. But I believe he was right’
 

Yithian

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#45
ramonmercado said:
Here are some gems from exam papers by 1st & 3rd yr uni students. Passed on to me by a friend.
I'm stunned by the illiteracy as much as the dubious content. Good to see the British aren't alone in their appallingly-low standards.
 

Yithian

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#46
And with distressing regularity:

British teenagers have 'huge gaps' in historical knowledge
Many young people in Britain are unable to tell the difference between Admiral Nelson and Oliver Cromwell, a poll suggests.

Nearly half of 18-24-year-olds (45 per cent) do not know that Nelson led the British to victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, with more than one in six (15 per cent) believing Cromwell was responsible, according to a survey commissioned by the national schools singing programme Sing Up.

More than one in four thought the Battle of Trafalgar was part of the English Civil War, while 34 per cent were unaware that Charles Darwin was English, with one in seven (14%) believing he was American.

The survey questioned 200 18-24-year-olds as part of a wider survey of more than 1,700 adults.

More than a third of all adults questioned did not know Darwin was English, while (22% did not know that Nelson led the British to victory at Trafalgar.

Only seven in 10 adult knew that Hadrian's Wall was built by the Romans.

The survey was commissioned to mark Sing Up's new School Trip Singalong, which will see the organisation partner with seven British attractions to help bring history to life through new songs.

Howard Goodall, National Singing Ambassador and composer, said: ''Everyone remembers their favourite school trip and those noisy minibus and coach singalongs. Singing on the bus is a great way to engage children in learning in a fun, exciting way, and there is a wealth of evidence which shows that singing aids memory, improves concentration and educational development.''

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/ed ... ledge.html
So, having largely concluded that our children are, in fact, learning almost no British history whatsoever - and with apologies for the Clarkson-esque tone - what, precisely are they being taught? Surely there's a limit to how much one child can know about Mary Seacole?
 

merriman_weir

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#47
theyithian said:
And with distressing regularity:


Howard Goodall, National Singing Ambassador and composer, said: ''Everyone remembers their favourite school trip and those noisy minibus and coach singalongs. Singing on the bus is a great way to engage children in learning in a fun, exciting way, and there is a wealth of evidence which shows that singing aids memory, improves concentration and educational development.''

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/ed ... ledge.html
[/quote]

Everyone? I don't. Depending on the master on the coach such behaviour would have resulted in a brief meeting with either the cane, the slipper, the plimsole or 'the log'.

So, having largely concluded that our children are, in fact, learning almost no British history whatsoever - and with apologies for the Clarkson-esque tone - what, precisely are they being taught? Surely there's a limit to how much one child can know about Mary Seacole?
Teaching British history - or rather setting its curriculum - is an almost impossible task with the first hurdle being that it's a long history. What do you select to teach from that history? What do you leave out and give a reasonable grounding in British history.

I'm of an age where history (up to and including O level) was taught: cavemen, Romans, nod to Vikings (but not really mentioning the Anglo/Saxons/Frisians/Jutes), William the Bastard and the Normans, then a strange mash-up of Henry VIII, Liz and the Spanish Armada, the Civil War and Restoration period topped-off with a bit of historical rubber-necking at the plague and the fire. From there it was afternoon tea with Queen Victoria, a quick go on Stephenson's Rocket and then straight into 2 World Wars with the latter tying into the English Lit. syllabus with the 'war poets'.

The trouble is, regarding some of the items in the article, unless you're covering Napoleonic Wars and our relationship with the French and the Spanish over the last 1000 years, there's little need to tie-in Nelson and Trafalgar and there's little to actually tie them on to in the first place. It's all stirring stuff, but for people who don't live in that there London and don't see him posing on his column on a regular basis I'm not sure he has the same 'currency' or cache.
 

Yithian

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#48
I take your point, but at the same time I am minded of the fact that I have two or three old British history textbooks which are frankly excellent at doing precisely what you suggest is so hard. One - I believe Nelson's - was a standard book in many schools in the 1890s-90s and is quite excellent. I learnt a lot re-reading it for pleasure despite the outdated language. Even as late as the 1950s we were producing great history textbooks at all levels, but now it seems we don't really use textbooks at all it at lower-levels. It's all handouts photocopies and 'materials'.

History is a story. The clue is in the name. If you live in Britain, it is relevant, regardless of background, local connection, class, ethnicity, religion or age. It distresses me that our history is being relegated to the back-rooms and dusty rooms of universities as a niche interest.
 

Quake42

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#49
So, having largely concluded that our children are, in fact, learning almost no British history whatsoever - and with apologies for the Clarkson-esque tone - what, precisely are they being taught?
When I did History GCSE back in the late 80s the theme was "world powers since 1917". Britain featured to some extent - largely as an oppressor in India, I have to confess - but the main focus was on the USA, USSR and Weimar/Nazi Germany. I have to say I thought it was a very good syllabus and did an excellent job of covering major events in the C20th.

A-levels were much more British focused. I did British History 1860-1914 but Tudor/Stuart history was also on offer.

Pre-GCSE history was ropey in the extreme and I think I can honestly say I learned almost zero from it - but in fairness that was also the case for Geography and RE, neither of which were taken terribly seriously by my school (for under 14s anyway).

The difficulty as I see it is that to provide kids with a proper academic grounding in History it is necessary to focus on one or perhaps two periods. A whirlwind tour of "when Britain/England was great", taking in the Crusades, Elizabeth I, Cromwell, Nelson, Wellington, the Empire etc etc is likely to be extremely disjointed. It would also be difficult to pull out common themes - a key skill for budding historians.
 

rynner2

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#50
Maybe this will raise Nelson's profile somewhat - although as he's already standing on a fecking great column in Trafalgar Square, I don't see how it could be much higher! ;)

Nelson's ship art unveiled on Trafalgar Square plinth

[video] Ship in a bottle in Trafalgar

Nelson's Ship in a Bottle has been unveiled as the new occupant of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Yinka Shonibare said his version of HMS Victory with its textile sails with African and batik prints reflects the multicultural and diverse capital.

The scale replica will commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar and 50th anniversary of Nigerian independence, where the artist grew up.

The ship replaces Sir Keith Park's statue and Antony Gormley's artwork.

Gormley's One and Other saw 2,400 members of the public each spend an hour on the plinth.

The 2.35m high ship inside a specially-made glass bottle, which is a 1:29 scale replica of the original HMS Victory, will be in place for 18 months.

The ship's 37 large sails are made of patterns which are commonly associated with African dress and culture.

The patterns also look back at the path of colonialism as the patterns were inspired by Indonesian batik design, which were mass produced by the Dutch and sold to the colonies in West Africa.

Turner Prize-nominated Shonibare said: "For me its a celebration of London's immense ethnic wealth.

"A ship in a bottle is an object of wonder. How can such towering masts and billowing sails fit inside such a commonplace object?

"With Nelson's Ship in a Bottle I want to take this childhood sense of wonder and amplify it to match the monumental scale of Trafalgar Square."

London Mayor Boris Johnson described it as a "stunning work" while Ekow Eshun, chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, said the creation was "topical and compelling artwork".

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8699650.stm

Apparently the bottle is large enough for workers to get inside it!
I love this idea, especially as I was friends with a ship-in-bottle-maker who died just afew years ago.
 

Cavynaut

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#51
theyithian said:
History is a story.
But that is all it is...a story. It doesn't actually exist.

You've got to ask yourself why any history is written, when it was written, and who it was written for. Otherwise it's meaningless.
 

Yithian

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#52
Cavynaut said:
theyithian said:
History is a story.
But that is all it is...a story. It doesn't actually exist.

You've got to ask yourself why any history is written, when it was written, and who it was written for. Otherwise it's meaningless.
But first you should know some of the story.
 

merriman_weir

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#54
theyithian said:
I take your point, but at the same time I am minded of the fact that I have two or three old British history textbooks which are frankly excellent at doing precisely what you suggest is so hard. One - I believe Nelson's - was a standard book in many schools in the 1890s-90s and is quite excellent. I learnt a lot re-reading it for pleasure despite the outdated language.
Firstly, I dare say it was easier to produce a book on British history actually during the Victorian era. Cuts out all that - and there's a lot - of messy 20th C. nonsense - whether it's World Wars, reappraisal of the British Empire, the Cold War and other such nonsense like 'motor carriages', the 'cinema', the 'television', voting rights etc. Secondly, as far as I'm aware Nelson's still produce educational material. It would be interesting to see how their current material fares in comparison to the 'classic' volume that you're so enamoured with. I've a feeling that it won't be much better - if any better - than other history text books that are available which would short circuit your argument a little as if Nelson's are producing shit books now, then obviously even they find it hard to do 120 years on.

Even as late as the 1950s we were producing great history textbooks at all levels, but now it seems we don't really use textbooks at all it at lower-levels. It's all handouts photocopies and 'materials'.

History is a story. The clue is in the name. If you live in Britain, it is relevant, regardless of background, local connection, class, ethnicity, religion or age. It distresses me that our history is being relegated to the back-rooms and dusty rooms of universities as a niche interest.
Don't get me wrong, I love history. However I dispute some of what you're suggesting here. History is stories, plural. It's not some monolith that only affords one view. It's not just the life of Royalty and upper classes - which is generally the lens through which much of our history is taught.

Also, a person's background can be supremely relevant to how they relate to history as, when it comes to relevancy, some parts are a lot more relevant than others as to how their own histories have been informed. I've seen Nelson's column once, for a couple of minutes about 30 years ago. On the other hand I live in a town that once had approximately 70 mills in it and many are still around in one form or another, the deepest mine shaft in the world, and has been a hotbed for suffrage, Chartism, &c. This is the history that's shaped my area and in turn shaped me in ways far more directly than Nelson. I know how and where my ancestors were living during the Napoleonic wars and I doubt that would have changed whether Britain won or not so what's more relevant?

Edited to jig the formatting and to add:

Regarding lack of text books, this is part of much wider issues rather than just how badly history is taught. To me, it's understandable that kids are getting copies and handouts. Books are expensive and not easily replaceable in an environment where there's little means to punish kids who vandalise or lose (expensive) books and where kids don't always readily engage with books generally anyway. When it comes to the latter, it's harder for us as adults with childhoods long before the WWW explosion of the late 1990s to actually understand how much screen-based everything has replaced the printed page as the go to platform for anything and everything. None of this is the kids fault: it's ours. The adults that push and push screen-based technology down kids' throats from birth either by buying them, making them or developing for them. The adult parents who either can't be arsed spending time with kids and getting them to read books or just haven't the time to do so on.
 

merriman_weir

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#55
Quake42 said:
It would also be difficult to pull out common themes - a key skill for budding historians.
I tried to touch on this earlier, with my point about tying stuff in and together. It's got to fit together or else you might as well teach history with general knowledge flash cards.
 
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#56
History was the subject that I did best at and the one that made me realise I actually liked learning but I'm not sure that the kind of textbook Yith is describing would have engaged me at all. My own story worked the other way around: I became absorbed with a very particular subject and the rest spread outwards from there.

I was actually recently looking for a book like this for the son of a friend but most of those I found were either glorified timelines or dry as dust and in the end I picked up EH Gombrich's superb exception to the rule, A Little History of the World.
 

Peripart

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#57
Spookdaddy said:
...I'm not sure that the kind of textbook Yith is describing would have engaged me at all. My own story worked the other way around: I became absorbed with a very particular subject and the rest spread outwards from there.

I was actually recently looking for a book like this for the son of a friend but most of those I found were either glorified timelines...
I think both "routes" into an appreciation of history are equally worthwhile, and both are pretty important in achieving some basic understanding of our past.

On the one hand, Spook, like you, I find certain fairly small periods of history fascinating, and want to know as much about them as possible, but I also see Yith's point about a more general chronology being useful. It's no good knowing everything about Henry VIII's wives and the build-up to WWI, if you don't know which came first!

Personally, I'd love to be able to remember the years of all the monarchs of the last 1000 years - partly because I'm a sucker for borderline-useless trivia, but more because that would then give me a framework upon which to hang any new snippet that came along.
 

Yithian

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#58
merriman_weir said:
theyithian said:
I take your point, but at the same time I am minded of the fact that I have two or three old British history textbooks which are frankly excellent at doing precisely what you suggest is so hard. One - I believe Nelson's - was a standard book in many schools in the 1890s-90s and is quite excellent. I learnt a lot re-reading it for pleasure despite the outdated language.
Firstly, I dare say it was easier to produce a book on British history actually during the Victorian era. Cuts out all that - and there's a lot - of messy 20th C. nonsense - whether it's World Wars, reappraisal of the British Empire, the Cold War and other such nonsense like 'motor carriages', the 'cinema', the 'television' etc. Secondly, as far as I'm aware Nelson's still produce educational material. It would be interesting to see how their current material fares in comparison to the 'classic' volume that you're so enamoured with. I've a feeling that it won't be much better - if any better - than other history text books that are available which would short circuit your argument a little as if Nelson's are producing shit books now, then obviously even they find it hard to do 120 years on.

Even as late as the 1950s we were producing great history textbooks at all levels, but now it seems we don't really use textbooks at all it at lower-levels. It's all handouts photocopies and 'materials'.

History is a story. The clue is in the name. If you live in Britain, it is relevant, regardless of background, local connection, class, ethnicity, religion or age. It distresses me that our history is being relegated to the back-rooms and dusty rooms of universities as a niche interest.
Don't get me wrong, I love history. However I dispute some of what you're suggesting here. History is stories, plural. It's not some monolith that only affords one view. It's not just the life of Royalty and upper classes - which is generally the lens through which much of our history is taught.

Also, a person's background can be supremely relevant to how they relate to history as, when it comes to relevancy, some parts are a lot more relevant than others as to how their own histories have been informed. I've seen Nelson's column once, for a couple of minutes about 30 years ago. On the other hand I live in a town that once had approximately 70 mills in it and many are still around in one form or another, the deepest mine shaft in the world, and has been a hotbed for suffrage, Chartism, &c. This is the history that's shaped my area and in turn shaped me in ways far more directly than Nelson. I know how and where my ancestors were living during the Napoleonic wars and I doubt that would have changed whether Britain won or not so what's more relevant?

Edited to jig the formatting and to add:

Regarding lack of text books, this is part of much wider issues rather than just how badly history is taught. To me, it's understandable that kids are getting copies and handouts. Books are expensive and not easily replaceable in an environment where there's little means to punish kids who vandalise or lose (expensive) books and where kids don't always readily engage with books generally anyway. When it comes to the latter, it's harder for us as adults with childhoods long before the WWW explosion of the late 1990s to actually understand how much screen-based everything has replaced the printed page as the go to platform for anything and everything. None of this is the kids fault: it's ours. The adults that push and push screen-based technology down kids' throats from birth either by buying them, making them or developing for them. The adult parents who either can't be arsed spending time with kids and getting them to read books or just haven't the time to do so on.
I tend to write my posts nowadays under the misapprehension that everyone who reads them has looked at my previous posts on similar subjects and has a fair idea of broadly where I'm coming from. This is a bit silly, I realise, so please don't think I'm naively demanding 'back to basics' or any such nonsense.

I recognise the history/histories distinction, but deliberately passed over it. By HISTORY I mean an agglomeration of all written (and potential) histories. It is an amorphous blob, constantly growing and changing not merely as time passes, but also as our demands and beliefs change.

HOWEVER, most people in British society (frankly) and all but the oldest and best students have no conception of this. Indeed, it seems they don't even know any of the disputed material - considering perspectives/agenda etc is quite impossible. They don't, in short, know many of the things that happened in the past, regardless of how and by whom they have been reported.

As to textbooks, I think the companies obviously produce work for which there is a demand. The problem is clearly at the heart of the syllabus, with those who decide what to do, when, and to what degree. If children can't engage with books, the blame lies with parents and schools (the providers of education), the response should be to find ways to make children engage with books, not abolish their usage. It's not the books per se that are valuable, but the unified pattern/narrative they present. That is what is lacking. If it can be generated by other means, then so be it.

The emphasis in history lessons today is on skills. Knowledge is not considered important; as information is supposedly always available nowadays, students should concentrated on how they receive it, what they do with it, and how they treat it. This is obviously all a (valuable) product of 60s (largely) Marxist-critical theory, but we've missed the point that critical skills are of secondary importance to the material they analyse. Also, - and this is the important part - the vast majority of our children will never reach a level of study where this becomes a major concern. The preponderance will leave school at 16 or 18 and be blessed if they have some understanding of where, when and how their society and its structures were created, how peoples and nations came to be where they are (in all senses of the phrase), and what things have been achieved, attempted and failed in the past and in what ways.

All nations have an interesting history. Britain (and indeed Britons) today, as much as anywhere in the world, is a direct product of its history: colonialism/Empire/industrialisation/democratisation/philosophy etc. etc. I don't want to get overly Whiggish, but we need a tapestry woven of these threads; what we have at the moment is a pile of fabric which is - understandably - of little interest to students. A concomitant of this is that children have no historical heroes. In a quest for inclusivity and a recognition of minority perspective, we have bowdlerised our national story and dragged those thought great for generations under a 20th/21st interrogative spotlight; perhaps unsurprisingly, they have been found wanting in the caring/sharing demands of our contemporary educational politics. The fact that they shaped the world and made our nation great cannot counter-balance these apparent sins.

Finally, and as a complete addendum: dates are important. If you are given a series of important events/movements/eras (the big important ones: the crusades, the enlightenment, the renaissance, the industrial revolution, the major wars etc.) and you can't put them into a chronological order, you are uneducated and should be ashamed of yourself or your teachers.

Edit: all your comments about local-history/interest accepted: you should obviously play up the local-links, but I'm largely of the view that if one doesn't think the major historical characters are 'relevant', then it is probably more honestly the case that one actually doesn't know enough about them.
 

Yithian

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#59
Peripart said:
but I also see Yith's point about a more general chronology being useful. It's no good knowing everything about Henry VIII's wives and the build-up to WWI, if you don't know which came first!
Yup, as I just wrote.
 

Quake42

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#60
Finally, and as a complete addendum: dates are important. If you are given a series of important events/movements/eras (the big important ones: the crusades, the enlightenment, the renaissance, the industrial revolution, the major wars etc.) and you can't put them into a chronological order, you are uneducated and should be ashamed of yourself or your teachers.
This is a bit of a canard that I have to take issue with. You often hear that "dates are no longer important" and the implication is that, as you say, students are unable to determine whether the Crusades came before the industrial revolution. Unless things have changed significantly since I studied History (I graduated in 1995), this is simply not the case.

What is true is that a student will not necessarily be marked down for stating, for example, that Henry II came to the throne in 1155 rather than 1154. Tutors and examiners (rightly in my opinion) would see a minor error of this sort as irrelevant in the context of an essay on, say, the influence of the Church in Plantagenet England.
 
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