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Recovering History Education's Forgotten Past: Diversity and Change in Professional Discourse in England, 1944-1962

Edwards, C; (2017) Recovering History Education's Forgotten Past: Diversity and Change in Professional Discourse in England, 1944-1962. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This study explores diversity and change in the professional discourse of history education texts published in England between 1944 and 1962. Specifically, it examines post-­‐war authors’ views on the aims of history education and on the role that primary source materials should play in the teaching of history. This analysis reveals that this professional discourse emerged as part of a dynamic social practice in which a vibrant community of post-­‐war authors set out their various visions for a “proposed” history education. This textual analysis draws on methods of discourse analysis, which focus on the selection and structuring of ideas. A review of the secondary literature, which reflected back on on post-­‐war history education revealed the existence of two contradictory positions. On the one hand, contemporary critics have heralded the period as a “Dark Age” in which rote learning, dull pedagogy and obedience to a narrow and celebratory history dominated. In contrast, on the other hand, other commentators have viewed the period as a “Golden Age” whereby history teaching was underpinned by robust civic and moral aims and in which pupils readily acquired a positive and secure national historical narrative. This study examines these two conflicting interpretations by closely analysing an array of post-­‐war seminal historical texts published by key figures, such as, Rachel Reid, Robert Unstead, Estella Lewis and Gordon Batho and organisations, including: The Historical Association, the Incorporated Association of Assistant Masters and the University of London Institute of Education. The study concludes, that far from being singular and unchanging, post-­‐war discourse among history educators was diverse, dynamic and thought provoking. Working within professional associations, authors discussed the purpose of history education and sought to influence history teaching in schools. What emerges is a shifting, complex discourse at odds with “Dark Age” and “Golden Age” simplicities. This study demonstrates the value of using published post-­‐war history education texts as sources for the study of education from 1944-­‐1962. Above all it challenges the view that there was an intellectual vacuum at the heart of history education during the two decades that followed the end of Second World War.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Recovering History Education's Forgotten Past: Diversity and Change in Professional Discourse in England, 1944-1962
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1546194
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