Is a little knowledge a dangerous thing? Students, national narratives and history education


 Jocelyn Létourneau and Arthur Chapman.

Anxieties about national identity and its strengthening and preservation are common in countries around the world, and it is, of course, entirely natural that this should be so in times of great change, challenge and uncertainty.

These anxieties can cause our discussions of history education to tend to the negative and to become counter-productive and even irrational. Public discussion tends, first, to base itself on impressionistic surveys – hardly fitting for matters of consequence. Second, it tends to focus on deficits – on what children do not know. Finding the same absence – repeatedly – is not a constructive act (we learn nothing new by doing it) and, more importantly, a focus on what is not present tells us nothing about what is in children’s heads. Understanding the ideas that children do have is crucial if we want to help them build historical knowledge and understanding, and we are holding a symposium here at the UCL IoE on December 1st to discuss precisely these issues. It is more important to know how children Read more ›

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Posted in Evidence-based policy, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

Schools causing concern: proposals should focus on capacity to improve

Melanie Ehren.

The Department for Education (DfE) has launched a consultation on ways to intervene in failing, underperforming and coasting schools. The document puts forward a new set of interventions specifically for ‘coasting’ schools, which are defined as those where fewer than 85% of pupils achieve the floor standards across reading, writing and mathematics in three consecutive years, and where pupils make insufficient progress. These schools would face interventions such as support from teaching schools or national leaders of education, changes in their governance  (e.g. appointing additional governors, or replacing the governing body with an Interim Executive Board), or converting the school into a sponsored academy. Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Leadership and management, Schools

Queen’s Anniversary Prize: a time for reflection

Graduation Ceremony 2013[523]

Chris Husbands

I’ve already written about my own departure from the IOE – leaving, in just a few weeks’ time, to become Vice Chancellor at Sheffield Hallam University. As we all know, leaving one job and starting another is  a time of mixed emotions: the combination of apprehension and excitement, the sense of the unfinished business which will remain forever unfinished, the opportunity, albeit briefly, to take stock. It’s in this context that I reflect on the award of a Queen’s Anniversary prize for Higher Education to the Institute of Education. Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy

Bullying: What have longitudinal studies taught us?

Meghan Rainsberry

The Department for Education (DfE) announced yesterday that 30,000 fewer children in England are experiencing bullying today compared to 10 years ago. This is a welcome finding as anti-bullying charities, schools, local authorities and others gear up for this year’s Anti-Bullying Week (16-20 November).

But other evidence suggests that the problem persists for many minority groups, and that the scarring effects of childhood bullying last well into adult life.

Longitudinal studies follow people throughout their lives, collecting information on their health, wellbeing, education, employment, family life and social networks. They are a unique resource for understanding who is at risk of being bullied, and what long-term effects bullying can have on our lives. Read more ›

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Posted in Childhood & early education, Research matters, Special educational needs and psychology, Teaching, learning, curriculum & assessment

‘Tragedy of the commons’: how the government abandoned the pursuit of teacher quality

education and the tyranny of numbers

Chris Husbands.

The ‘tragedy of the commons’ is a well-known tenet of public, and especially environmental policy. The ‘commons’ refers to a resource shared by many individuals who can use a portion of it for their own benefit. The tragedy is that in the absence of effective regulation, each individual will tend to exploit the commons to his or her own advantage. Under this state of affairs, the commons are depleted and eventually ruined: everyone acts in their own interests and the outcome is destructive for everyone. But the problem is that if the commons are going to be used up, whoever uses most stands to benefit the most. The application of the ‘tragedy of the commons’ to environmental challenges is obvious. Read more ›

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Posted in Education policy, Teachers and teaching assistants
This blog is written by academics at the UCL Institute of Education.

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