Thursday, 20 January 2011

Jordanhill School

Today, seven 1st year history pupils from Jordanhill School attended our Pedagogy and Curriculum history tutorial along with the Principal Teacher of history at Jordanhill School, Mrs Claire Wood to lead a session on Collaborative Learning.

I have to say, it was one of the most enjoyable learning experiences I have had at Jordanhill College so far and the pupils were a credit to their school. They had us student teachers do some homework prior to the session- background reading on The Bayeax Tapestry because of which I missed the FA Cup game on the telly! I hope to teach at Jordanhill School one day in the future where I will get my revenge with copious amounts of homework issued to only these pupils every day!

The day began with us being put into groups of 5 and we were to act out a particular scene of our choosing from the Bayeux Tapestry- I think some people in the class should be doing drama rather than history!

After performing for the class and a quick coffee, Mrs Wood delivered a very interesting presentation on Collaborative Learning; I will just share a few of the points that struck a chord with me.

Firstly, with respect to the importance of studying history and its prevalence in the school curriculum; I have worried in the past about its dilution and the obvious knock-on effects to my future employment prospects in teaching. However, rather than get sympathy for this position, Mrs Wood believes it is the fault of history practitioners, including us students, for what seems like an attack on history...and she has a point.

It is not enough for teachers and student teachers to motivate children and young people to value history for intrinsic reasons. We must do more. For example, for every school department to flourish, it needs an uptake of pupils for certificate classes; every pupil will choose their subjects for different reasons. Some might like the department teachers, some because their pals are doing it. Subjects will also be chosen based on what will help pupils get work after school- to earn a living, working to live. As Claire Wood stated today, it is up to myself and fellow student history teachers to be active agents in banging the drum for history as teaching pupils how to live, ie helping to foster in them active citizenship for example.

This cannot just be done in the classroom though and involves bringing history to life for pupils through field trips etc. One such example of this which I will look at in another post is the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) War Memorial at Kelvingrove Park which I am going to visit tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, 17 January 2011

The History Channel

I remember fondly the innocent days of the mid-late 90s before my family got Sky TV and my daily viewing consisted of 'cooncil telly' fare such as Budgie the Little Helicopter, Scotsport, Bullseye, the Hurricanes, Gladiators and (Take the) High Road- quite a mix, I think you'll agree. (now, I look back and wonder why I wanted Sky so much at all!).

But want it I did... for Monday Night Football, the wrestling, Keenan and Kel and The Simpsons mainly. However, I also wanted it for the History Channel. As a teenage geek, I remember watching a documentary about Hitler at my friend's house, probably after Ultimate Warrior v Hulk Hogan or Raw is War or something equally sad and I think it must have been the first time I had learned anything substantial about him...Hitler that is, not Hulk Hogan. I always included that channel in my 'aww, how amazing would it be to get Sky in?' talks with my brother.

Anyway, after many months and years of desperate pleading, we got Sky in...probably because my Mum discovered the Sky package contained QVC or something...until I flopped at my Standard Grade exams as a result of watching too much fitba, apparently. Anyway, it was back to terrestrial tv for a while as punishment and to ensure I did better next time; I grew up and realised exams are actually more important than the Last Word with Andy Gray on a Sunday night.

But back to the point of this post which aye, the History Channel. The reality of it is quite disappointing I think and should be re-named the Nazi channel due to it's devotion to all things Nazi: Nazis in Colour, Nazis in Black and White, Hitler's Maw, Hitler's Granny. Give us a break and put something else on!

In fairness, there are other programmes which don't contain 'Nazi' in the title but these also tend to be about the Second World War. I can't remember the last really good programme I watched on the History channel....I watched BBC's A History of Scotland with Neil Oliver last year on and there was a great programme on STV about Scottish International Brigaders in the Spanish Civil War based on a book called 'Homage to Caledonia' by Daniel Gray. Can the History Channel not cast the net a bit wider and put programmes like that on?

I realise the programmes have to appeal to the general public and so war features prominently in the schedule but why does it always have to be the Nazis and the Second World War? It seems like the History Channel is putting on the same programmes I watched as a teenage geek back in the 90s. Surely there is more to history than 1939-45?

So, what else do we want to see historians?

Friday, 14 January 2011

Into the Wild

Hello. Welcome to histoandy blog. I'm a PGDE student at Jordanhill College. I've just started a module called ICT: Children, Computers and Creativity and my first task is to get a blog up and running. So, simple to start- What I learned this week!

What I learned this week: the story of Christopher McCandliss.
The moral I took from his story: always be prepared.

I watched the film, Into the Wild, for the first time this week which follows the adventures of a young American law graduate called Christopher McCandless who travelled America and tragically died in Alaskan wilderness.

Christopher graduated from college and rather than pursue a professional career as his father wanted, Christopher donated the remaining $25,000 of his college fund to Oxfam International and travelled America under the name Alexander Supertramp, turning his back on civilisation and his family as well

The film follows Supertramp through Arizona and South Dakota as he experiences many great moments, some with people he meets and some on his own as a lone wolf.

At the end of the film, Supertramp dies alone during his Alaskan Odysey, an experience he had long dreamed of. He died of starvation. I am now being urged by David (tutor!) to hurry up and finish this post so can others complete the story of Supertramp please...