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.


  1. Slightly off topic I know, but what do you think of the educational developments in England where there is a call to return to learning facts and dates in History? Good thing/bad thing?

  2. I personally wouldn't enjoy the subject with rote learning and memorisation being the key attribute. I think history is ideal to develop many skills in pupils and active learning plays a part in that.

    I would say it is very important that pupils have a knowledge base before any active learning activities take place though so traditional learning still has a place but I think it would be a waste of the many opportunities history brings for using skills like analysis, questioning and creative thinking. For example, we were given a Bayeux Tapestry handout which we used today to keep for future use with pupils. I couldn't just go into a class and use this for a first lesson as it was all about pupils creating their own role play, acting it out, organising themselves etc. They could only do this if they had a sound knowledge of the topic in the first place which traditional learning can still play a part in.

  3. It sounds like a really positive experience. Did the kids get an opportunity to say what they thought of the day? I never took history in school and for me I think it was a problem with the teacher making the subject relatable. From my memory there was a lot of facts and figures except from one homework involving asking my grandparents about their WWII experiences.
    I particularly enjoyed the talk we were given a while back showing S4 pupils I think it was studying WWI and then going on a trip to the battlefields and seeing them really understand the sacrifices. Granted there would have been some rote learning of dates and the like but for me its experiences like that that can really stay with a pupil

  4. The kids seemed to enjoy bossing trainee teachers around! They were so confident organising everything, giving presentations and working with groups of students. I certainly could never have done that in 1st year!

    Just on what you say about your grandparents and also battlefield trips... the pupils history teacher produced a photograph as part of her presentation which showed a number of pupils listening to a talk given to them by a former Scottish soldier. One of the boys in the photo looked absolutely transfixed on the speaker and the teacher explained to us that he normally cannot concentrate for more than 5 minutes at a time but he sat and listened intently for the whole 50mins.

    Teachers, textbooks and learning dates can give the pupil knowledge about history but I think its trips to battlefields for example like you say, visits by people directly involved in historical events, visits to museums etc which teach them about citizenship...and leave a lasting impression on kids.

  5. Not really linked to the blog but thought you might like this - take a look at Mearns Castle High's website. They're doing a 'Guess the moment in History' competition by creating scenes using Lego!