Should our history lessons be history?

Last month Professor Robert Tombs, a history fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, dammed history teaching in England and Wales. His report said history teaching in our schools is fragmented and misses out swathes of important information. The reported pointed out gaps in knowledge, particularly in historical education pre 1870. The main concerns raised were that compared to their European counterparts our children leave school with knowledge of obscure topics and focus on the wrong kind of skills such as evaluating sources rather than focussing on gaining knowledge.

Whether or not we agree with the views in the report, history is fundamental to our understanding of the present world. It shows us how our current political and cultural landscapes have developed and gives us insights into human nature.  So what can you do as a parent to help your child understand history and what it means in their world?

  •  Make history fun. It’s often seen as a dry, boring subject so find ways to make it interesting and interactive. Trips to places like the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry and Liverpool Docks can provide real insight in a fun way.
  • Ask your children to question what they are taught. We don’t want children to be disruptive in school but history taught in the classroom is just one interpretation. If your child questions this knowledge then don’t be afraid to explore alternatives with them, check out the library and internet for the other side of historical accounts.
  • Chuck the textbooks out. Alternatively, hide them in a cupboard for a few hours!  How about watching historical videos on you tube? Or comedy sketches about historical events? Look at the Horrible Histories series of books or turn a history lesson into a craft session.
  • Know what your child is being taught. Speak to your child and their teacher so you know what they are learning in the classroom. That then gives you the opportunity to enhance that learning (if you and your child want to). A private history tutor can help your child with their school-based work but also explore other areas of history if they are particularly interested.

If you need help finding a private history tutor for primary and secondary level in Manchester and Cheshire (Stretford, Hale, Didsbury, Heaton Moor, Altrincham) then contact us.

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