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An investigation into the role of language in the teaching and learning of history

By Susheela Curtis

Abstract

... there is a danger that written work in history becomes simply transactional, in response to questions, rather than a vehicle for the development of thinking about people in the past... (Husbands, 1996, p.6) The premise of the research is that learning is enhanced by explicitly teaching pupils how to use specific vocabulary and structures of language which reflect patterns of thinking related to learning history. Hence this research focuses on exploring scaffolding strategies to enhance pupils’ understanding of the analytical nature of history and to move them away from recounting information towards more discursive and critical writing (See Case Studies). The early chapters explore how my working context led me to this research: this includes, the context in which I worked and the language and learning theories which informed my work. They also explain the reasons why Action Research was the most appropriate method. Chapter 4,‘The Preface’ describes the processes of learning pupils were guided through, and the ‘Case Studies’ provide concrete examples of the hierarchy of activities and an examination of the resulting pupils’ texts. They also demonstrate the Acton Research cycle. The final chapter defends the thesis as the lived experience of a teacher who attempted to make a difference.. The Appendices 1-5 give further examples of pupil’s texts relating to most of the case studies and Appendix 6 provides some evidence to support the final chapter. The ‘data’/material on which this thesis is based was collected by 2000, hence documents, books, reports referred to have largely been pre 2000

Topics: LB Theory and practice of education
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.bham.ac.uk:994

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Citations

  1. (2006). In addition the articles published in History Teaching long after the time period of this thesis cited in the following chapter (Chapman A (2003), Scott. A
  2. (1989). Language and Cognitive Development This section builds on the notion of language as social practice cited above, specifically with the notion of genre as ‘patterned ways of using language…’
  3. (1991). p.145). A weighty exposition on action research I looked at was New Directions in Action Research (Ed Ortrum Zuber-Skerritt,
  4. (1979). Past research signals the importance of explicit teaching of genre. In
  5. (1989). The Cox Report
  6. (1982). The genre linguists like Gunter Kress
  7. (1993). The processes I have adopted are reflected in those set out by Jack Whitehead and quoted by Jean McNiffin in Teaching as Learning, an Action Research Approach
  8. (1991). The socio-cultural notion of language are made concrete by Littlewood in identifying the genre of school subjects (Littlefair,
  9. (1991). Value of Action Research. What is the value of such subjective research which is context specific and that can only arrive at tentative conclusions? The criteria of evaluating the reliability of my research is drawn from Kincheloe
  10. (1979). Working in history classrooms I observed that not just pupils with EAL, but many other pupils found the language demands of school subjects hard to meet. Hence even today the slogan of the Bullock Report ‘All teachers are language teachers’

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