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The Prince of Wales Summer School 2003


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#46 neil mcdonald

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 08:16 PM

Again the forum appears top be delving into the world of mistrust and attack. I met John Simkin, Andy, Dan, Dafydd and other members of the Forum. I avoided in many cases (although not all) political issues - why? Because they result in arguements that resolve nothing. The issue over opinion in Histiry in this forum has been run over the hot coals once - I don't think it should be done again. The issue over employment of John seems to be an issue that could lead someone into Hot Water!

a) To fail to hire someone on the grounds of politcal affliation would be discriminatory practice - along the same lines as Race, Sexism, Homosexuality and Disability.

B) The loss of diversity in the Department would be an issue. I do not agree with members of the Department I am in. My mission I see it to push what I want.

c) A new HoD who may intimidate accidentally (or not) a colleague could be guilty of bulying in the work place and if the colleague left surely practices that could lead to unfiar dismissal.

The work place is their to be a place of work nor combative arguements. Enjoy the curriculum, experiment with learning styles and resources but don't miss out the key purpose of our jobs as TEACHERS to educate the children by opening their minds up to the wealth of knowledge and historical debate.

My own personal opinion on this is:

a) John, you appear to delight in turning every strand of the forum into a class struggle - how about putting forward good teaching ideas or developing in other areas of the forum?

B) The summer camp was a valid part in the development of the History Curriculum. Development can only take place by concultation and discourse; bring the issues to the front and let's see how they develop.

Lets enjoy the summer.
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#47 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 08:23 PM

bring the issues to the front and let's see how they develop.

Isn't that precisely what we are doing by discussing them in the forum?
It will be a very sad day when history teachers feel restrained from discussing controversy?

#48 Andrew Field

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 09:14 PM

bring the issues to the front and let's see how they develop.

Isn't that precisely what we are doing by discussing them in the forum?
It will be a very sad day when history teachers feel restrained from discussing controversy?

Yes indeed Andy, but you've missed all the other points in Neil's post which was a well thought out and timely intervention.

I thoroughly agree with what you've said here Neil and really appreciate your comments. I also really welcome the involvement of everyone involved in teaching history. If we are to encourage others to join the forum it is a matter of welcoming different viewpoints and stimulating discussion.

Mistrust and attack needs to be avoided. Healthy debate, great. I really don't want this forum to turn into a heavyweight battle between different viewpoints meaning that people aren't happy to share and air their views. That really isn't the purpose here.

Those involved here all know exactly what buttons to press to get people to react. That's fine, but don't let that get in the way of the forum functioning properly and in a helpful way.

Just as Neil nearly said "The work place is there to be a place of work not combative arguements", I thoroughly agree. The best functioning departments are places where people hold different views but then are able to work as a team together. This forum should work as a large department were everyone works together to help.

If it ceases to be that, then b***** it - I'm off to the TES History forum.


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#49 JohnDClare

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 10:45 PM

Firstly.
As to debate, there are times to seek concensus, and times to explore differences. As long as the debate doesn't tip over into vitriol, there's nothing wrong with a frank exchange of views. Surely that's what we want in our classrooms - that pupils should be prepared to have their veiws challenged and have to defend them?
Not to offend - there's the skill.

Secondly.
Sorry. If someone expressing John's opinions applied for a post in my department I fear I would not employ him or her.
There is a lot about John's posts which ARE worthy of great respect. Energy. Commitment and enthusiasm. Fine ideals, even.
But:
a. it is absolutely unprofessional to try to indoctrinate. A teacher has no right to try to impose her/his political views on the pupils. That is the Prime Directive.
b. what John is advocating (though I suspect not doing) is poor history teaching. Part of understanding history must be to understand other people's beliefs and value systems. It is impossible to explain why the atomic bomb was dropped without understanding Truman's standpoint; and Truman genuinely believed that he was doing the right thing. Thus an historian is obliged to acknowledge a mind-set which believes it was right to drop the A-bomb. What you and the children make of those arguments is up to them and you. But you cannot censor a whole ideology because you as a teacher disagree with it. Similarly, whilst political correctness does perhaps make us shy away from the direct question 'Was it right to gas the Jews?', most teachers will have taught the reasons why the Nazis embarked on the Final Solution - and to do that properly does involve teaching an element of empathy. You need to understand even the enemy, and as history teachers we have to teach this skill.
c. Too combative. We need to be aware that pupils are sometimes less robust than we might imagine, and they are easily damaged. So too can be teachers! Whilst this forum is a place where we can explore diferences, a department must be a place where the members seek concensus.

Thirdly.
Having said all that, one post from John really made me think, when he said:

My agenda is to see our society becoming racially harmonious, tolerant of other other nations, keen to promote human rights around the world, keen to end poverty in third world countries, keen look after the environment, and keen to respect international laws as the cornerstone of socially democratic principles.†


and Richard replied:

I would like to say that I'm sure everyone on this forum shares John's hopes for the world.


Now, here's the rub. Surely THAT is a political idea too. And are we not indoctrinating if we try to get all our pupils coming out believing this? But what would we make of it if one of our pupils came out saying that they had considered the options and were going to choose a racist, or a homophobic standpoint, or that they were going to become a terrorist, or a paedophile? Would we give them that leeway?
Perhaps we ALL indoctrinate our pupils - its just that some of us are more subtle about it, and that our politics are more middle-of-the-road?

'Ah no', you say, 'we would be justified in stopping such beliefs because they are illegal - outside the bounds of what our society accepts'.
But who says so - Tony and his Third Way? The Citizenship National Curriculum? Who sets the agenda of what political standpoint we collectively espouse - those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, of course!

Surely what History teaching is all about is introducing the pupils to ways of thinking BEYOND their accepted society (eg the Native American attitude towards Nature)?
But I think, as we do that, we have to be a referee, rather than a guru.

Edited by JohnDClare, 09 July 2003 - 10:50 PM.


#50 Dafydd Humphreys

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 10:53 PM

Imagine this argument was going on in South Africa in the 1950s. Would we condemn a teacher who went out of their way to profess their point-of-view as a counterpoint to what is presented in the standard texts? If we all followed the Apartheid curriculum (note I am not using 1933 Germany as an example as we all know such teachers were 're-employed') and were good South African citizens, would we have failed because a young Nelson Mandela said he was to become (in Thatcher's words) a terrorist?

Were the pro-status quo South African teachers 'apolitical', 'neutral' or acting as unbiased 'referees'? I think not.

I dislike the word 'guru' as it has religious connotations.

By the way John (D Clare) I just bought a load of your textbooks today so go easy on me!
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#51 JohnDClare

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 11:03 PM

Fair point, Dafydd - unarguable, even.
But what would you say if - on receipt - you found my textbooks were 'political', 'partisan' and 'biased'?
Would you not send them back and demand a refund?
PS I originally used the word 'instructor', but changed it to 'guru'. Do you not think that political leaders verge upon the religious, and that political ideologies are very similar to religious dogmas?

Edited by JohnDClare, 09 July 2003 - 11:05 PM.


#52 Dafydd Humphreys

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 11:10 PM

I would use them as an example of interpretations in history and how people with enough knowledge of history have opinions.

How can we expect, even demand our students to reach conclusions and express opinions on historical events if the ONE person they come into contact with who has historical knowledge refuses to commit themselves to an opinion or a judgment of an historical character/event/change? Is that not hypocritical or even worse, a case of the willingly blind leading the blind?

All I am asking for is for some people to admit that there can be no such thing as being 'apolitical'. Everything is a political act, and to say otherwise is very difficult for young minds to grasp and would lead to confusion, or worse.

By the way your textbooks are great, grovel grovel. :)
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#53 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 11:10 PM

But what would you say if - on receipt - you found my textbooks were 'political', 'partisan' and 'biased'?
Would you not send them back and demand a refund?

Not only that but the glue on the spine is rubbish and all the pages fall out - buy some SHP books while you still can

(NB. this is a joke John's books are mighty fine)

#54 JohnDClare

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 11:13 PM

Thank you foe being so kind.
I agree with Dafydd - about the apolitical thing, that is
Where does this leave us on the British Empire, though?

#55 Guest_andy_walker_*

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Posted 09 July 2003 - 11:15 PM

Thank you foe being so kind.
I agree with Dafydd - about the apolitical thing, that is
Where does this leave us on the British Empire, though?

We do our best given the restrictions of our own lights to empower kids to make less a hash of the world than we have - my view is we can't do that "teaching" values or telling "stories", we can only achieve it through the skills approach

#56 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 12:24 AM

Mistrust and attack needs to be avoided.  Healthy debate, great.  I really don't want this forum to turn into a heavyweight battle between different viewpoints meaning that people aren't happy to share and air their views.  That really isn't the purpose here.

Those involved here all know exactly what buttons to press to get people to react.  That's fine, but don't let that get in the way of the forum functioning properly and in a helpful way.

Just as Neil nearly said "The work place is there to be a place of work not combative arguements", I thoroughly agree.  The best functioning departments are places where people hold different views but then are able to work as a team together.  This forum should work as a large department were everyone works together to help.

If it ceases to be that, then b***** it - I'm off to the TES History forum.

Quite a bit of water has flowed under the bridge since Andrew posted this earlier this evening and I have hesitated before posting again in this thread, but I think the time has come to say that I feel that these totally predictable arguments are becoming a real turn off to participation on the Forum.

I have absolutely no objection to robust debate on issues concerning the teaching of History, but I feel that essentially the same ground is being gone over - over and over again. There is no way to say this politely .... it is getting very tedious.

More importantly I suspect that it inhibits some of our members from participating. In fact I know it does.

Please can we get back to the atmosphere of cooperation to which Andrew has referred. I for one find it very disturbing that the person who has done most for this Forum feels so frustrated that he feels like defecting.

#57 John Simkin

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 06:13 AM

Mistrust and attack needs to be avoided. Healthy debate, great. I really don't want this forum to turn into a heavyweight battle between different viewpoints meaning that people aren't happy to share and air their views. That really isn't the purpose here.

Those involved here all know exactly what buttons to press to get people to react. That's fine, but don't let that get in the way of the forum functioning properly and in a helpful way. (
Andrew Field)

I do not see why the forum cannot do a variety of things. Does people discussing important issues about teaching stop others from seeking and giving help on how to obtain good teaching resources?

Unlike a previous debate on heroes in history I think this debate has been very polite and posters have not resorted to rude comments.

I have absolutely no objection to robust debate on issues concerning the teaching of History, but I feel that essentially the same ground is being gone over - over and over again. There is no way to say this politely .... it is getting very tedious.

More importantly I suspect that it inhibits some of our members from participating. In fact I know it does. (
Carole)

Surely if people find this debate tedious they donít spend time reading it.

I can understand why some people do not feel intellectually confident enough to express themselves about their views on how to teach the British Empire. I cannot see how this will inhibit them about posting and reading on other parts of the forum.

However, if members do post on these issues then they must expect to be challenged. If their points are intellectually sound, this should not cause them any problems. If they say daft things they need to be corrected. As educators we have a responsibility to do this.

Perhaps we ALL indoctrinate our pupils - its just that some of us are more subtle about it, and that our politics are more middle-of-the-road? (John Clare)

The most important thing said so far. There are certain values we all share and therefore see nothing wrong in advocating them. Only a very few teachers (due to their own indoctrination) are able to see this. Without them society would not change. It is difficult for teachers to play this role in any society. It has been impossible for those working in dictatorships. However, those teachers working in a democracy can, as long as their careful, can do it. The emergence of the New History, makes it even easier to do. So does this History Forum. I would hate to think teachers get the impression that it is not the right place to express divergent views. After all, the most dangerous form of censorship, is self-censorship.

#58 Richard Drew

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 06:48 AM

i don't wish to spark ff a new round of debate, and i'm sure i will be lambaseted for selective quoting, but i find these statements (made by 2 different people) hard to square:

Unlike a previous debate on heroes in history I think this debate has been very polite and posters have not resorted to rude comments.


and

I could even countenance sharing a department with some of the more pompous representatives of the Right that have sometimes posted on this forum.

I would similarly enjoy the departmental debates and hope to have some positive impact on some of the more rabid outpourings


To assert that you couldn't work with someone because of their political views is obnoxious

your assertion that you are apolitical is frankly silly

The sort of Alf Garnett approach to the world which clings to tradition and ritual - daftly you immediately took this as a personal insult


(my italics)

on the whole the dabate has been reasonable and most cooments that have hit the funny bone have been critiquing others' ideologies/viewpoints, however, i feel that the particular post i have slectively quoted does not stand up to such high notions as politeness.

Edited by Richard Drew, 10 July 2003 - 06:55 AM.

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#59 larochelle

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 06:52 AM

...surely self-censorship is very sensible and to be sought after if it entails not saying the first thing that's on our mind?

I'd hesitate to say this has been polite (although maybe it has in comparison with others ;) ) but more seriously it's not about how to teach the Empire, it's about (or has become), as others have said, an entirely predictable revisiting of old political ground between a very small number of people. In one sense that's fine, and I've found it interesting to read, although please let's not pretend it's anything else. In another sense, think we have to be very careful, and I agree with Carole that it can be intimidating - a situation not helped by comments about 'if their posts are intellectually sound, this should not cause them any problems'. It's NOT to do with intellectual soundness at all, but your political interest - please let's recognise that there are some great History teachers with passionate political beliefs, and some who don't have these...and please don't make those who don't feel inferior because that's not how we measure success as a teacher, or level of intelligence...or I certainly hope not...

#60 Elle

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 06:55 AM

It's NOT to do with intellectual soundness at all, but your political interest - please let's recognise that there are some great History teachers with passionate political beliefs, and some who don't have these...and please don't make those who don't feel inferior because that's not how we measure success as a teacher, or level of intelligence...or I certainly hope not...

I agree.

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