Saturday, 21 December 2013

A rant

Yes, this is indeed a rant, for which I make no apology whatsoever! 

It was with great dismay that I read in the December issue of BBC History Magazine that 'some schools prevent pupils from studying history'. What on earth is going on?!?! It seems that the ongoing row over league tables, and the pressure to perform well or be dropped, is causing schools in England to bar students from studying history. 

The Historical Association surveyed 450 schools in England, accounting for 15% of the total, and of these 39% turned away students or whole classes from the subject at GCSE level. What's more shocking, is that this figure has been rising since 2011 - when it was at 16% - and 2012, when it was at 31%. The Association believes this is due to schools using their students merely to tick the boxes and improve their standing in the league tables, and not reflecting the true purpose of schools, to cater to the 'educational and cultural needs of the pupils', which is shocking, to say the very least. 

What is the point of knowing what happened hundreds of years ago? History is not just a mildly interesting story of what happened long ago. It provides us with a sense of cultural identity and a sense of location in space and time. The academic subject of history teaches people to think critically, to evaluate, and to argue effectively. To deny students the opportunity to develop these skills seems scandalous! 

At least the article ends on a positive note, as we look forward to an overhaul of the league table system that, hopefully, will lead to a fairer system for all concerned. The idea of league tables - effectively, the principles of capitalism - being applied to the educational system is woefully misguided, in my view. History would teach you that.