Wales AND BRITAIN IN THE MEDIEVAL WORLD, c. 000-1500. Also available in a Welsh language edition, Cymru A PHRYDAIN YN Y BYD CANOLOESOL TUA 1000-1500. By Hefin Mathias. Hodder and Stoughton, 1995. Pp. 64. £ 5.99. The publication of Hefin Mathias's admirable contribution to the 'Focus on Welsh History' series completes the Hodder and Stoughton trilogy whose first fruit was R. K. Turvey's Wales and Britain in the Early Modern World, c. 1500-c. 1760, in 1995, followed by Davies Evans's Wales in Industrial Britain, C.1760-C.1914, early in 1996. Specifically developed to meet the requirements of the revised National Curriculum History Order for Wales, the 'Focus on Welsh History' series is aimed at the 11-14 age- group, providing a fresh approach to textbook writing using the techniques that have proved successful at Key Stage 3 teaching. The books were commissioned by the Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales, which also provided financial support towards the cost of publication. This fact has led to criticism from some senior educationalists, such as the normally sober Professor John Fines, president of the Historical Association, who was quoted as saying that 'if teachers relied on these books, anything could happen'. Others have accused the CAAW of introducing 'an authorised version of history'. There can be few school history textbooks whose official launch has been received by the educational and national press with headlines 'Welsh history at risk of state control' or 'Curriculum Warning: warped sense of culture risk from history lessons'. Fortunately, the majority of teachers will judge the books on the merit of their content, the accompanying activities and exercises and avoid the almost hysterical but ultimately sterile debate regarding their provenance and 'true' purpose. This is a book that has been eagerly awaited during its twelve months or more of gestation. It will not disappoint. Its author brings all his experience of many years' teaching to bear on a subject that, if done well, is almost certainly guaranteed to excite and enthuse its readership. This is of critical importance for a subject which, being optional at 14-16, has to compete with other equally 'relevant and important' academic disciplines, The foundations for future growth (or survival!) and success at GCSE and A level have to be laid here. For those concerned about the fate of history on the school curriculum, Mr Mathias's book will serve us well. The construction of the book makes it easy to use and the author's style enables him to communicate effortlessly. He writes in short sentences and with an easy style which should meet the needs of a wide ability range. The book enables teachers and encourages pupils to see patterns and connections across time and place, to get to grips with big historical issues
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