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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Schama attacks school history
classroom scene
Students can drop history at the age of 14
The historian Simon Schama has heavily criticised the teaching of history in secondary schools, saying courses are too narrow.

Professor Schama says the syllabuses focus just on "Hitler and the Henrys, with nothing in between".

He says the curriculum at state schools does not allow teachers to veer away from the narrow band of topics which must be taught.

Professor Schama was speaking at the launch of a new BBC-backed digital channel all about history, called UK History.

He said:"The situation in secondary schools is absolutely dire.

"The modules only teach pupils Hitler and the Henrys with nothing in between.

Actor Keith Michell plays King Henry VIII in a BBC series
Schools only teacher Hitler and the Henrys, says Simon Schama
"Students cannot make the connections in between with these gobbets of knowledge."

Last month the Prince of Wales called an education summit, where he criticised the "narrow straightjacket" of the exams system, saying it stopped children developing knowledge and understanding of their national history".

Professor Schama attracted record audiences for a history programme with the BBC series A History of Britain.

He says the 90 minutes a week allotted to history lessons in secondary schools under the national curriculum is not enough to produce "historically literate" students.

Earlier this year a report from the think tank Politeia, criticised the way history is taught in British schools.

The authors said that in much of Europe and in the USA, the emphasis in history lessons was on knowing the broad sweep of history of the country.

By contrast, in Britain, they said pupils focussed on very specialised areas and on developing the skills which might be used by professional academic historians.

See also:

05 Oct 02 | Education
16 Oct 01 | Education
28 Jun 02 | Mike Baker
09 Oct 01 | Education
27 Mar 02 | Education
22 Sep 01 | Mike Baker
17 May 02 | Education
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