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Welsh History Review


Vol. 10, nos. 1-4 1980-81

New history, old problems : studies in history teaching : Book review.

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in the writing of history. The notes to each chapter appear at the end of
the book, each prefaced by a very comprehensive bibliography, and there is
an appendix of 'model' interview questions which may prove helpful in
some instances, but whose rigidity perhaps undermines their usefulness.
For those as yet uninitiated in oral history this book will provide much
food for thought. In some fields of study oral history is the only method of
obtaining information, and so the book will be of value to those research-
ing into modern Welsh history, where documentary sources are often
fragmented, sparse, or non-existent. Projects such as the South Wales
Coalfield Project have already clearly shown the value of oral history in
this respect. For all persons researching into or teaching modern history,
particularly in the fields of social, economic, and local history, this very
readable book-in many senses a pioneering work-will be of great
practical assistance.
Guildhall, Swansea
Gareth Jones and Lionel Ward. University College of Swansea Faculty
of Education, 1978. Pp. 156. £ 2.
During the last two decades, the curriculum in schools has received in-
tensive analysis, and every subject-discipline has been under scrutiny. New
views on the teaching of history have emphasised the need for the develop-
ment of approaches which are concept- rather than content-based, and
much effort has been expended in trying to encourage teachers to re-assess
their objectives, the methods they employ and the materials they use. The
papers in this volume, for the publication of which the joint editors and
the Faculties of Education of the University of Wales and of University
College, Swansea, deserve commendation, were delivered at a conference
of history lecturers in University Departments and Schools of Education.
They illustrate currently-held views of specialists about the teaching of
history in schools, and underline the nature of the debate which has been
generated by the protagonists of the 'New History'.
The continuing grip which the chronological syllabus and the traditional
approaches exert in history teaching in the comprehensive schools is high-
lighted by Peggy George. She suggests that a much clearer appreciation
by teachers of educational theory will be required before any real incentive
for change can be expected; and that even where exciting schemes of work
have been developed in the lower school, and have built upon good found-
ations laid in the primary school, the public examination system soon
imposes an unenlightened, content-based approach. The rate of change,
or the lack of it, creates significant problems for the teacher-trainer, whose
dilemma is neatly summarised by Peter Lucas. Should he prepare his
students for the immediate problems to be faced in the 'real school' or
for a possible longer term role as agents of innovation?
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