Exactly what history is currently being taught?

23rd April 2010 at 01:00

The Education Secretary's speech in Canada, in which he is reported to have called for more Scottish history to be taught in schools, is welcome.

But the teaching of history is constrained by shortage of time, as much as by limited resources, materials and training, and Curriculum for Excellence will not necessarily fulfil public expectations by putting an end to the patchy coverage of Scottish and other areas of history. It might make things worse, because CfE gives much scope to heads and authorities who will feel pressured into taking decisions on grounds of staffing, timetabling and resources.

Thus we could see an increase in the trend towards teaching history as part of integrated social subjects courses - sometimes by someone without any knowledge of, or enthusiasm for, history.

In addition, the CfE "experiences and outcomes" for history are unbalanced. There are seven general references to Scottish history but only four to wider British, European and world contexts, not a balance which would have appealed to the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, nor a design which would prepare our young people for today's global society.

Some attempt has been made to address these issues with the publication of new guidelines to encourage more systematic and balanced coverage. But these are general and give no indication of any particular requirement in terms of the amount of history covered.

It would be useful if Learning and Teaching Scotland conducted a survey to establish exactly what history is being taught.

Duncan Toms, Whitton Drive, Glasgow.

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