Google Find us on Google+

History teaching ‘play-based’ lessons

May 10, 2013 by

‘Usual suspects’ in teaching unions blamed for ‘culture of excuses’

History students have been taught about the Second World War by imagining Hitler as one of the Mr Men, Michael revealed as he launched a scathing attack on the standard of teaching in some English schools.

The Education Secretary said teenagers are treated liked ‘infants’ by a system which refuses to challenge them, by encouraging them to read the Twilight vampire series instead of Shakespeare, Dickens and George Eliot.


Disney films and plasticine models were being used to ‘infantilise’ youngsters who were failing to learn properly about England’s great history, he said.

Students were told to imagine Adolf Hitler as a Mr Men character

Students were told to imagine Adolf Hitler as a Mr Men character, Michael Gove said in a damning critique on the way history has been taught in some schools

In a speech at Brighton college Mr Gove tore into the ‘culture of excuses and low aspirations’ pushed by the ‘usual suspects’ in the teaching unions and some education campaigners.

‘I believe we need to ask more – much more – of our education system.’

Mr Gove said: ‘Proper history teaching is being crushed under the weight of play-based pedagogy which infantilises children, teachers and our culture.’

‘I am not sure he ever got round to producing Mr Anti-Semitic Dictator, Mr Junker General or Mr Dutch Communist Scapegoat’

Education Secretary Michael Gove

One set of guidelines said 15 and 16-year-olds studying for a history degree could depict the rise of Hitler as a ‘Mr Men’ story.

The guidance stated: ‘The following steps are a useful framework: Brainstorm the key people involved (Hitler, Hindenburg, Goering, Van der Lubbe, Rohm…).

‘Discuss their personalities / actions in relation to the topic. Bring up a picture of the Mr Men characters on the board. Discuss which characters are the best match.’

Mr Gove ridiculed the idea for trivialising the entire Second World War as a cartoon aimed at children.

‘I may be unfamiliar with all of Roger Hargreaves’ work but I am not sure he ever got round to producing Mr Anti-Semitic Dictator, Mr Junker General or Mr Dutch Communist Scapegoat.

‘But I am familiar with the superb historical account Richard J Evans gives of the rise, rule and ruin of the Third Reich and I cannot believe he could possibly be happy with reducing the history of Germany’s darkest years to a falling out between Mr Tickle and Mr Topsy-Turvy.’

Mr Gove said history teaching is being 'crushed under the weight of play-based pedagogy'

Mr Gove said history teaching is being ‘crushed under the weight of play-based pedagogy’

 

The Twilight vampire series by author Stephanie Meyer was not a patch on George Eliot, Mr Gove said
Young people should dream of taking part in the Rio Olympics, not finding fame in the Big Brother house

The Twilight vampire series by Stephanie Meyer was not a patch on George Eliot, Mr Gove said as he warned  young people should dream of taking part in the Olympics, not finding fame in the Big Brother house


Meanwhile a lesson plan for primary school pupils suggested learning about the early Middle Ages by studying the depiction of King John as a cowardly lion in Disney’s ‘Robin Hood’.

‘If that proves too taxing then they are asked to organise a fashion parade or make plasticine models,’ Mr Gove added.

They were also urged to study ‘well known animated aquatic characters’ like the clown fish from the Disney film Finding Nemo.

The new draft history curriculum is ‘a direct attempt to address the failure – over generations – to ensure children grow up knowing the story of our islands’.

Teachers should be free to teach how they wish, not have it dictated by central rules which treat young people on the verge of going to university ‘as though they have the attention spans of infants’, he said.

Pupils at the best primary schools read the Bible, Jane Austen, Shakespeare comedies and tragedies, George Orwell, Charles Dickens, Ted Hughes and TS Eliot, he said.

But in some secondary schools GCSE exams are ‘pitched so low’ that most students read just one 21st century novel. More than two thirds of pupils studying the AQA GSCE in English only read Of Mice And Men.

Tracey Beaker author Jacqueline Wilson last week complained about the language skills of British children, saying letters from fans overseas were more eloquent than UK kids.

‘They’re writing in English, and apologising for their English, yet these letters will be more grammatical and spelt more properly than [those from] our own children. It’s quite extraordinary,’ she said.

Mr Gove backed her to speak out about the ‘one of the scandals of our times’.

Author Jacqueline Wilson was praised for speaking out against the 'scandal' of British children unable to use good grammar in fan letters

Author Jacqueline Wilson was praised for speaking out against the ‘scandal’ of British children unable to use good grammar in fan letters

And he took a swipe at former children’s laureate Michael Rosen who complained that a new test for grammar was too hard, and would condemn children as failures.

He said parents would prefer to see their children reading Middlemarch instead of Twilight, using a computer for coding not playing Angry Birds, joining the cadets not playing pool, dreaming of taking part in the Rio Olympics not Big Brother.

‘There are all too many children and young people only too happy to lose themselves in Stephanie Meyer, while away hours flinging electronic fowl at virtual pigs, hang out rather than shape up and dream of fame finding them rather than them pursuing glory.’

In a further swipe at the Twilight teen vampire books, he added.

The series author Stephenie Meyer ‘cannot hold a flaming pitch torch’ to George Eliot.

‘There is a great tradition of English Literature – a canon of transcendent works – and Breaking Dawn is not part of it.’

He said he was determined to set higher expectations for every child because that is what parents want.

‘It is what makes children happier by introducing them to levels of accomplishment they may never have envisaged.

‘And it is what the overwhelming majority of teachers – who believe in the nobility of their vocation – are doing every day.’

He went on: ‘I have a clear view of what an educated person should be – literate, numerate, historically aware, culturally curious, engaged by science and technology, aware of the demands of the workplace, ready to take their place as an active citizen in an open democracy.

‘As long as there are people in education making excuses for failure, cursing future generations with a culture of low expectations, denying children access to the best that has been thought and written, because Nemo and the Mister Men are more relevant, the battle needs to be joined.’

via Michael Gove slams history teaching in scathing attack on ‘play-based’ lessons | Mail Online.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Posts

Tags

Share This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

UA-24036587-1