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T.E.A.C.H Teaching Emotive and Controversial History 3-19
The Department for Education and Skills has funded the Historical Association to produce a report called “Teaching emotive and controversial History 3 – 19” (TEACH 3-19).

The National Curriculum for History and GCSE and A-level History qualifications often include areas of study that touch on social, cultural, religious and ethnic fault lines within and beyond Britain. Such areas of study include the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the Holocaust and aspects of Islamic history. These areas are sometimes avoided by teachers to steer away from controversy in the classroom.

The way such past events are perceived and understood in the present can stir emotions and controversy within and across communities. The Historical Association’s report will gather examples of effective teaching that deals with emotive and controversial history in schools across all key stages from the ages of 3 to 19. This will allow us to obtain a comprehensive view of current best practice in teaching these and similar issues. It will recommend proven and successful approaches that enable teachers to tackle these issues in ordinary lessons through rigorous and engaging teaching while at the same time challenging discrimination and prejudice. One of the strengths of the project is that it will link together work in the classroom with historians in HE who are working in these controversial areas, thus combining practical classroom experience with the latest academic research.

But what makes an emotive and controversial issue? Is it something personal that resonates with an individual or their own experiences? Or is it an event of such magnitude that it in itself is hard to accept, like the Holocaust? Or one that somehow involves unfairness? Of course we, as history teachers, can approach almost any topic in a controversial manner, by turning it into a series of conflicting opinions and views. But because we choose to make an issue controversial by our approach to teaching it does not in itself make that topic or issue controversial.

The project has appointed five researchers who are looking at the way we approach the teaching of controversial issues in each Key Stage. The researchers are Penelope Harnett [Foundation and KSt1], Helena Gillespie [KSt2] Michael Riley, [KSt3] Richard Harris [KSt4] and Alison Webb [KSt5]. We are looking for case studies and examples. If you would like to contribute to the project, or know of colleagues who you think are teaching these topics and issues well, and who might be happy to talk about this, then please do get in touch with us – alf.wilkinson@history.org.uk and we will forward details to the relevant researcher. They are looking for examples of good practice that are specific to each Key Stage, but also for common threads and themes, so that perhaps we can make comparisons and reach conclusions on some of the best ways to enrich history teaching and learning through controversial and emotive issues.

For the full report please follow this link:

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