Cutting-edge research comes to classrooms

30th November 2012 at 00:00
University of Glasgow project takes findings 'out of the ivory tower'

An ambitious new project is opening up cutting-edge history research to teachers and pupils throughout Scotland.

Those behind the University of Glasgow project say it will connect schools with the latest thinking, years before it filters into affordable history books.

The driving force will be Scottish history, in recognition of the compulsory Higher element, although the project will also look beyond Scotland.

"Teachers absolutely do their best with what's available in the bookshops, but what they can't get their hands on is things like journal articles, and that's where a lot of the cutting-edge research is first published," said Karin Bowie, a Scottish history lecturer at the University of Glasgow.

She added that research in a journal article could take a few years to work its way into books at an accessible price - indeed, "it may never make it through".

"We want to get the research out of the ivory tower and into the hands of teachers," she said.

A website, History in Scottish Schools, includes summaries and briefings on the latest research, and direct access to academic papers.

An S1-3 section covers topics that teachers might not otherwise consider - including a section on witch trials - while an S4-6 section follows Scottish Qualifications Authority topics.

There has been considerable interest from schools, with 250 delegates - including pupils - arriving at the university tomorrow for Aiming High in Higher Scottish History, an event in which they will be able to quiz academics. Demand may lead to another such event next spring, and a regular place in the calendar.

Dr Bowie highlighted the benefits for academics and teachers alike: "We're writing Scottish history for Scotland - why should it just sit in a book and very few people read it? Ultimately we want people to know their own history.

"And history changes. People discover new sources, take in new perspectives, so what a teacher learned at university could actually be quite out of date."

University of Glasgow Scottish history professor Dauvit Broun stressed that Curriculum for Excellence had been a catalyst, because of the "autonomy that teachers are given in their own subject area".

Neil McLennan, president of the Scottish Association of Teachers of History, said: "One of the most pleasing things during this period of reform has been better links between academics and teachers."

The University of Glasgow project had given schools an "innovative way to engage with cutting-edge research", he said.

Areas covered


- Witch trials and folk belief.

- People of medieval Scotland 1093-1314.


- The Wars of Independence.

- The Reformation.

- The Union of 1707.

- Atlantic slave trade.

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