Tuesday, 29 March 2011
History in Decline? (Plus a quiz!)
Niall Ferguson has written a grumpy article criticising a recent Ofsted report which had stated that there was much that was "good and outstanding" about the way History is taught in this country. He has responded by arguing that it is hard to make this case if increasing numbers of schools are reducing the time they spend teaching the subject and fewer candidates are taking the subject at GCSE and A-Level. He also follows the "Daily Mail" route by expressing his concern for the "widespread historical ignorance among school leavers", with evidence for example from a recent survey suggesting 89% of history undergraduates could not name a 19th century Prime Minister. You can test your ignorance yourself with this quiz - although Nonsuch HP is proud to say that a Year 12 History class today scored an impressive 9 out of 10. Ferguson's particular criticism is over the "smorgasbord" of subjects taught in a seemingly "random" order which do not provide a true sense of chronology. The "long arc of time" has been replaced by "odds and sods" which do not allow students to place important events and developments in their proper context.
What is your opinion? Is he right? Is History in crisis? And if so - what should we do about it? (274 people have already added their comments to his article)
PS: Don't forget to try out that History quiz!