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  • April 1st

    Posted by David Foster on April 1st, 2009 (All posts by )

    One of these two stories is an April Fool.

    General Electric develops talking light bulb.

    British Schools will no longer require the teaching of certain historical subjects, such as the reign of Queen Victoria and the events of the Second World War, but will instead emphasize twittering, podcasting, and blogging.

    The other, apparently, is not.

    Can you guess which is which?


    6 Responses to “April 1st”

    1. Andrew_M_Garland Says:

      We have experience with schools teaching history, writing, math, and science.
      Five years later, the student’s knowledge seems to have disappeared. We rightly blame the schools, and it is a scandal every few months in the weekend papers.

      Now, if the schools teach twittering, podcasting, and blogging, we will see how successful the students are even five years later, and we can give the teachers raises.

      Raising Grades

      Improving Educational Reputation by Changing What Is Taught and How It Is Tested
      More on British education. I think US education can’t be much different.

    2. Helen Says:

      Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I have news for you. Our schools have not been teaching history for quite some time. Queen Victoria? Who she? As for the fuss about not teaching the Second World War, I’d get a little more excited if other parts of a rather long history were taught. WWII was not the only important event in English/British history and as time goes on it will not be clear whether it was anywhere near the most important either.

    3. david foster Says:

      Helen..from a priority standpoint, do you think learning how to twitter/blog/podcast is more important than *any* part of the history curriculum? Because however you prioritize the subjects within that curriculum, these pseudo-tech activities are obviously taking time away from *something*.

    4. Laura(southernxyl) Says:

      Er … my daughter learned those things in school. She supplemented with a lot of reading on her own, but she did get it in school.

      Of course the events of WWII are important. Neville “peace in our time” Chamberlain, for petes sake. Rise of fascism. We need breathing room. Concentration camps. Vichy France. The Blitz. Resistance movements. Bataan Death March. The atomic bomb. Remember that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it? That goes for those of us who do know it but are surrounded by people who don’t.

    5. Helen Says:

      What I am saying, Laura, is that there was an awful lot of history before that. For instance, it is impossible to understand Chamberlain’s position if you do not know about the Great War and its aftermath or about the position of Prime Ministers in British Dominions in 1938 and that is impossible to understand unless you know about the way the British Empire developed in the twentieth century. See? One can go on for a long time. In other words, I want to see children learning HISTORY not just bits and pieces that happen to appeal to whatever is the acceptable opinion at any given time. They will neither know nor care about those bits and pieces unless they understand them and can fit them into some sort of a pattern.

    6. david foster Says:

      Helen…I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that history teaching should start with WWII…I’m certainly not, anyhow. It’s important that people be able to locate themselves in space and time, and that requires a reasonable overview of (in this case)all of British history. But the advocates of the blog/twitter/podcast approach seem to be arguing that considerable time should be gobbled up from history and other substantive subjects, leaving teachers precisely with the problem of choosing which bits and pieces to emphasize.