Controversial histories in schools

Controversial histories in schools

Controversial histories in schools

Introduction

Over the past two decades, schools have stopped teaching controversial historical topics. For example, by 2016 only 2,000 GCSE students – out of 250,000 – had studied the history of the Middle East. Government research has shown that this is caused by teachers being either unequipped or worried to address the topic.

2020 Award

Michael Davies (CF 2015) is a history teacher and the founder of Parallel Histories, a new type of history resource that tells competing narratives using film clips, photos, maps and documents and challenges students to make up their own minds. In 2017 Parallel Histories became a UK charity and in 2018 Michael stopped teaching to work on this full time.

Michael has been awarded one of our Activate grants to expand his Parallel Histories debating programme across nine London schools. The programme brings together students from different religious and social backgrounds and will conclude with a conference to showcase the students’ skills in front of politicians, educators and policymakers. The programme has been successfully adapted to Covid-19 and three inter-school debates have already been run online. From this, Michael aims to introduce a Parallel Histories module into teacher training to help equip them, whilst expanding other histories to be debated as part of the curriculum. Ultimately Michael intends this work to encourage a change in national education policy, so that controversial history – and especially the history of current conflicts – will be taught in schools. He would like to see accredited exam bodies such as AQA and OCR offering a Middle East option at GCSE, and an expansion to at least 10% of students taking a Middle East module at GCSE level.

Michael’s Fellowship to Israel, Jordan and the State of Palestine explored a better way of teaching the contentious history of Israel and Palestine.

2020 Award

Michael Davies (CF 2015) is a history teacher and the founder of Parallel Histories, a new type of history resource that tells competing narratives using film clips, photos, maps and documents and challenges students to make up their own minds. In 2017 Parallel Histories became a UK charity and in 2018 Michael stopped teaching to work on this full time.

Michael has been awarded one of our Activate grants to expand his Parallel Histories debating programme across nine London schools. The programme brings together students from different religious and social backgrounds and will conclude with a conference to showcase the students’ skills in front of politicians, educators and policymakers. The programme has been successfully adapted to Covid-19 and three inter-school debates have already been run online. From this, Michael aims to introduce a Parallel Histories module into teacher training to help equip them, whilst expanding other histories to be debated as part of the curriculum. Ultimately Michael intends this work to encourage a change in national education policy, so that controversial history – and especially the history of current conflicts – will be taught in schools. He would like to see accredited exam bodies such as AQA and OCR offering a Middle East option at GCSE, and an expansion to at least 10% of students taking a Middle East module at GCSE level.

Michael’s Fellowship to Israel, Jordan and the State of Palestine explored a better way of teaching the contentious history of Israel and Palestine.