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What would you like to study?


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#1 Mr Field

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 12:06 AM

At the moment there are lots of people discussing what students should and shouldn't study for GCSE History. It is part of plans to improve what is offered to Year 10 and Year 11 students in the future.

However, I'm really interested to know what students of today feel.

If you are currently doing your GCSEs - what do you think? What would you like to study? What would improve GCSE History?

If you are planning to take GCSE, or even didn't opt to take it - what do you think - what do you think would encourage more people to take history?

Any sensible, well explained suggestions are welcome. In fact, I don't even know why I said that - all good history students make sensible, explained suggestions don't they! B)

#2 -James-

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 05:57 PM

I have always been fascinated with History, and I always knew that GCSE History was for me. However in Year 9, I was unaware that there are different syllabuses for each subject. The course that Im studying is the British Social and Econmic course which is extremely interesting but not really my period of History (I prefer WW1, WW2, Cold War etc). I would have liked to have studied Modern World History instead.

Regarding the actual GCSE system, I was shocked to find out that there are no tiered GCSE History exam papers. I understand that the examiners award marks on the basis of detail and evidence of understanding in your answer, but surely this can be also be done on tiered papers? I feel that perhaps the less able students are at a slight disadvantage when they sit the exam.

I believe that there are many ways in which the teachers can encourage students to opt for GCSE History. I believe that school trips can be very useful at achieving this as students love to hear that they will be going on trips! For example, I am studying Jack The Ripper as part of my coursework, and my teacher has arranged a trip to go up to London and go on the Jack The Ripper night tour. When my teacher told our class this, all of a sudden, there was a great interest in Jack The Ripper (although many of us were already very keen on the JTR coursework). I am really looking forward to the trip as I believe (and obviously my teacher) that it will really help my understanding on the topic, and it will be something different anyway :P

#3 wolfieus1986

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Posted 20 March 2004 - 11:46 AM

I am currently doing AS history, and I am studying British history 1860ish - 1914ish and Germany from Bismark to the Nazis. At GCSE we did modern world history of the Liberal reforms and Weimar and NAzi Germany (our head of history wanted us to take AS history about something we had already recieved good background knowledge on)
However, although no history is boring (just some periods are less colourful than others), British history of that era is not the most stimulating and interesting due to rigid workings of politics. Everything was so orderly. I feel that a topic to learn at any level would have to be medieval England, Tudors and Stuarts. Especially medieval England with all the back stabbing, greed and wars. Makes for much more interesting time than "the passing of this act and the passing of that act"!People in Britian feel we are forgetting our heritage and were we come from so we should learn British history. To lure people i would recommend an era that was slighty different to ours but recognisable and understandable like that of medieval England....fasinating

#4 Mr Field

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Posted 20 March 2004 - 12:07 PM

Excellent and interesting ideas. Thank you. Do encourage others to post their views. :)

#5 Mr Moorhouse

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Posted 07 April 2004 - 05:22 PM

How does the amount of content in the History courses compare with the amount in other subjects? It would be very interesting to hear what pupils think about this area, especially as decisions about content of courses are being made fairly soon.

#6 daryl leeworthy

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Posted 15 April 2004 - 09:01 PM

Hello,
I'm about to sit A2 history and have followed the WJEC course studying British C19th Political Reform (c. 1815-1914) and the French Revolution. For GCSE I studied the AQA course Medicine through time and Nazi Germany. I've found that with the new A/S system historians have not been given a fair deal since, and unlike for instance biology, history is a progressive subject it requires synoptic knowledge to be able to understand the entire topic. Thus perhaps we could get away from this A/S system? But obviously that's not going to happen anytime soon. I have to agree with my teacher that there are too many students these days studying Nazi Germany from year 9 right through to year 13 and in some cases beyond. Perhaps one might consider, given the changes being planned, introducing a rule that forbids such a situation, it surely cannot be good for the creation of future historians.

As for the content in history courses, I have to say that it compares favourably well with other subjects since with extra reading there can be as much or as little content as the individual desires. Comparing with the other subjects I do, that is French and German (I also did Music and English A/S), the amount of work for history and the topic range is on a par, and for GCSE it is perhaps greater since there are so many areas of study. Having said that, talking to fellow students whilst on interview at Oxford I've discovered that the WJEC history course is one of the most examined, I believe that some of the English boards have two pieces of coursework whereas I only have one...

#7 Anti-Alex

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 05:29 PM

any way i reckon we should focus less on what happened in this country and its current diplomatic allies and on important events in other countries historys as i think in this subject diversity is always better than focusing on one particualr places history. also bearing in mind the terrorist attacks of late and the current trobles acroard i think it would be a good idea to learn more about the recent history of the world for example id like to focus on the last 20 years and how the current middle eastern problems arose(excuse the spelling)

well i thougt it was a good idea at the time

#8 Mr Moorhouse

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Posted 17 April 2004 - 10:46 AM

Thus perhaps we could get away from this A/S system? But obviously that's not going to happen anytime soon. I have to agree with my teacher that there are too many students these days studying Nazi Germany from year 9 right through to year 13 and in some cases beyond. Perhaps one might consider, given the changes being planned, introducing a rule that forbids such a situation, it surely cannot be good for the creation of future historians.


The AS/A2 system will not exist as we know it in 6 or 7 years time. The curriculum developments that will happen as a result of the Tomlinson Report are likely to transform Post 16 education (and KS4 as well). I'd imagine that the system will be closer to the IB course than the current AS/A2 mix, though nothing has been finalised as of yet.

Having said that, talking to fellow students whilst on interview at Oxford I've discovered that the WJEC history course is one of the most examined, I believe that some of the English boards have two pieces of coursework whereas I only have one...


The amount of coursework you've had is down to the History department at your school. Certainly on the syllabus that I deliver (Edexcel) there is an option to have units assessed either by examination or coursework. You could, for example, be given an Individual assignment AND coursework for other units. On the other hand, you could be given no coursework at all.

#9 daryl leeworthy

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Posted 17 April 2004 - 04:22 PM

I've been following the progress of the changes to post 16 education as best I can. Though I hope we don't end up along the lines of an IB system because there are compulsory elements in it that won't appeal to everybody taking the exam and I fear that that may end up alienating more people than the current system.

Please advocate more medieval and renaissance history! Vesalius and Harvey was the best bit about the old GCSE!

I think a mix is better with regard to exams and coursework. One thing I have come across when talking about the exams with one or two people in my history class is that we would like to see no limits on the exams themselves. For instance the synoptic essay we have for A-Level is set at 50 minutes and there's no way you can give a good acccount of yourself in that short space of time especially trying to cover 100 years of history. We thought perhaps having an entire exam session (3 hours I think) to write the essay. The logic behind this is that those who can write well will be given the opportunity and those who are able to only write 50 minutes worth can do so as well. In history you need time to think and at the moment you can't.

#10 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 17 April 2004 - 05:44 PM

You raise some very interesting points here, Daryl.

Inevitably you write from a personal perspective. It is your views which are being solicited after all.

However I would just point out that it would have been perfectly possible for your course to have focused on a Medieval and/or the Renaissance period. The fact that it hasn't is a reflection of the strengths and interests (and available resources too probably) of the History Dept at your school. Each of the Exam Boards offers a number of Options and 'routes' through the AS and A2 specifications. The only requirements are that a student takes a English/British Module and a European/American HistoryModule at AS. Depending on the Exam Board an AS student may/may not take a Coursework Module.
At A2 one of the Modules must be a synoptic one. ...... I am sure you get the picture, but things are not as rigid as might first appear

The courses that any school/college chose to offer though tends to be driven to some extent by what are/what are perceived to be 'market forces'. (ie what the prospective students are thought to be interested in studying) In many institutions it is a matter of 'bums on seats' and if insufficient students 'sign up' then a course will not run.

Interestingly, at my own school, (where History is normally the most popular Option Choice at AS and where the subject is offered in two different Option Blocks) we decided to ensure that whichever Block a student was in we would ensure that they studied some Medieval, some Early Modern and some Modern History as part of their course. However we had both the expertise and the resources in order to do this. Not all schools will be in that position.

Regarding the synoptic paper, I do understand what you are saying about the time allowed. Personally I think an hour would be a fairer length of time to answer a question, but I do know that the Chief Examiners' answer to your observation would be that the mark of a really good candidate is the ability to focus very sharply on the question and to be selective in the material used to support the argument being developed in the answer. I do rather think that allowing people as long as 3 hours in which to write the essay would lead to long, waffly and descriptive answers.

Can I stress that I am not criticising your views, but offering information and observations in reply to what you have said.

#11 dh175

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Posted 23 April 2004 - 12:39 AM

I dont think there is enough British political history in our curriculum, for example the history of the three main parties, the British unwritten, uncodified consitution and the shift from empire to the European Union.

If this history was taught it would not only give students a real understanding of modern day Britain but also would help to deal with the problem of voter apathy among the young!

Justine

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Ihope you won't mind me moving your post, but what you had to say, Justine, seemed appropriately placed in this thread.

Edited by Mrs Faithorn, 23 April 2004 - 01:03 AM.


#12 Katherine_A

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Posted 16 May 2004 - 04:05 PM

I am in year 8 and I really like History, but I think that we should do a bit more foriegn hisory.
I know there is some such as slavery in America.

katherine :)

#13 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 16 May 2004 - 04:14 PM

If you enjoy History, but are still in Year 8 then I think you will find that the older you get, the more 'foreign' topics you will do - though it depends on what your school chooses. Make sure you opt to do GCSE History ;)

Not meaning to be rude/unkind but:

This 'discussion' was initially intended to be about what people would like to/not to study for GCSE in Years 10 and 11 and their observations about the current courses offered.

Perhaps those who post in this thread would read the initial message first please.

#14 lex

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Posted 16 May 2004 - 09:41 PM

If you are currently doing your GCSEs - what do you think?  What would you like to study?  What would improve GCSE History?

However, I'm really interested to know what students of today feel.


I am currently in Year 11 [GCSEs in June], following the Edexcel Syllabus, studying:

*The Rise and Fall of the Communist State: The Soviet Union, 1928 - 1991
*Superpower Relations, 1945 - 1990

and

*The War to End Wars, 1914 - 1919
*The World at War, 1938 - 1945

--

This is the end of my second year in the British Education System, as previously, my schooling had always been in French [despite having lived between Britain and the USA].

In the French System, the History taught is generally about France and her victories. Early on, you also study Islam and the Ancient Egyptians...all with a heavy French input. There is nothing wrong with it, but I never much enjoyed it.

After having switched [so at the beginning of Year 10], I dreaded History, because I thought that it would be much of the same thing. It was also quite a new approach to the subject as in the French System, History and Geography are taught as one subject, and I didn't quite know what to expect. I think that the British System is great in the way that History and Geography are taught separately.

I was also extremely surprised and interested once we began the course. It was so different in its focus, in the way questions should be tackled, and also in subject matter. I had never studied Modern World History, and consequently, knew surprisingly little about it. There is not one aspect of my course that I have found dull or uninteresting, and I have particularly enjoyed studying the Cold War.

I now love Modern World History, and am keen to read further into it by myself, which I doubt would have been the case had I never been introduced to it. I think that it is fascinating to study at GCSE, and a great way to get motivated students interested in the subject. Additionally, schools could perhaps also introduce several course options? However, I do understand that this possibilty greatly depends on the size of the school and amount of staff. - I can't complain though, for GCSE, I have been completely satisfied in that respect.

At the end of Year 10, we were given the option to drop a few subjects, and one of the options was History. I was stunned at the amount of people who dropped it. There are now only about 30 of us across the year who study History, and I imagine that the reason for this is the amount of work and knowledge required in order to acheive a successful grade. All subjects require work and effort, good grades don't fall from the sky, but I feel as though History is particularly challenging. However, contrarily to others, I felt that it was more important to keep a subject I was interested in, as opposed to what would be easier, since I would therefore be more encouraged to make an effort. I also agree with James in that the introduction of tiers into GCSE History would be more profitable for less able students, [and those who do not opt to take History purely though fear of not being able to get a good grade].

In History, there is tremendous amount to know - in my mock, I felt extraordinarily stressed [more so than in other exams] and very pressed for time. At some stages, I had to put my pen down for a few minutes because I couldn't think straight and because the room had started to spin. It wasn't due to the fact that exams are stressful, because, on the contrary, maybe I wasn't stressed enough. There is just so much to know, and so much to write down in such a short space of time, especially for Paper 1, which I find to be the more heavily-weighted and difficult? paper.

A slot of 2 hours is allocated for Paper 1 and a 1 and half hour slot for Paper 2 [which is source-based]. I think that either, there is not enough time allocated, or the sheer amount of questions and what there is to write is a bit [or extremely] 'off-putting'.

For Paper 1, 2 questions in 2 hours, where

Total for part a] = 20 marks

Total for part b] = 25 marks

Paper 2, 2 questions on each of the wars, where the whole question is worth 30 marks.

Quite frankly, Paper 1 scares me.

Perhaps the time should be broken up? To make the load seem less cumbersome? In one sitting: one question in one hour? So instead of Paper 1 being taken in one sitting, there could be two?

Maybe there are reasons for the current 'set-up' of the papers, such as exam-scheduling, but I sure find it a lot to handle, and know that others sitting the same exam agree.

I don't know, just a few ideas, perhaps similar to those above, but that's my input.

Edited by lex, 17 May 2004 - 07:04 PM.


#15 Daniela

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Posted 27 June 2004 - 04:08 PM

I am in Year 10 (only 3 weeks to go!) and I am taking GCSE History.

I'm studying the Emancipation of Women in England at the moment and have done some work on Russia and Germany. History, I believe, is very popular in my Year and a third or maybe more of the 180 students are taking it.

I do worry that there will not be enough time for me to think in the exams, but I'm not sure that is part of this topic.

I would agree that we only seem to study English and European history and although I think that we need the chance to learn about other cultures/countries/continents the amount of history we could learn is so immense I don't even feel as though I have learnt more than a drop in the ocean of, for example, British history so focusing on a set range of topics is perhaps a good thing, even if it is confining. After the Tudors and Stuarts of earlier years moving sharply away to a very different history, for example, of Africa could be difficult.

While studying Citizenship I found that my class was not confident or very willing to learn about Zimbabwe. Overall, we really didn't know anything about the culture of history of this country (there was 1 SA student who did know more) and so really needed a lot of background information that just was not provided, when talking about Europe or England it is much easier because we have a better understanding of European culture/history. I suppose you could say that were we taught with a wider range of topics this would not be a problem...

Do you think that a very wide choice would just not be used, or very difficult to teach? If the school decides what is studied I imagine that typical subjects would be used (eg, Nazi Cermany, WW1 etc) because we already have a background education in European history. If the students chose and chose a wide range would that mean independant learning or limitations decided on by the school?

Then again, where there are options, students like the choice and it encourages more students to take the subject because they fell as though IMO the subject is catering for them and allowing them to do what they want and feel they can do well in; not just what the school or government wants.

I guess that there are only so many lessons in the GCSE course and already there seems too much to cram in, I hope how much we study is re-evaluated as well :( .

hmmmmmm :unsure:

Daniela




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