A critical evaluation how pupils learn in the History curriculum (5000 words)

Introduction (500 words)
It is widely and controversially debated everyday how children learn and how that is reflected on how they are then taught. First we must determine what is meant by a child ‘learning’. Learning requires the active, constructive involvement of the learner. Without the active involvement of the pupil, the learner will struggle to learn as it is imperative that they pay attention, observe and memorise key information in order to recite and excel in both lessons and assessment. Traditionally, historians argue that children learn through the behaviour theory however more recently contemporary historians have challenged this and introduced the mindset theory argument. The traditional theory demonstrates that children learn through the behaviour theory works upon Pavlov’s (1923) theory. Pavlov used his dogs to demonstrate conditioned responses when given a stimulus. Relating this to children learning, it is clear to see the distinctions in a classroom that the majority of children are conditioned to “learn” just from walking into that classroom as school comes with classical conditioning that children are there to learn and the stimulus is the classroom and learning material themselves which allow children to understand they are there to learn. For my development as a teacher, it is interesting to use this theory as a means of ensuring work is completed and that students are coming to school to infact learn and do not take it as an opportunity to act out of lessons.

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The contemporary argument sees different approaches to the mindset theory, usually referring to the growth or fixed mindset theory. The growth mindset theory refers to Dweck’s 2008 theory who claims that there is a belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. In contrast to this, fixed mindset relies upon the theory that people believe their intelligence and talents are fixed and cannot be developed over time. Relating this back to the question, it is apparent some children will developed a fixed mindset where they believe they cannot improve and if they are not good at history will not push themselves further to get better at it. However, some students do often develop a growth mindset and will often volunteer themselves to come to support sessions and will excel in tasks in school or at home with maximum effort as they believe they can achieve their target if they put in the hard work.

LO1 demonstrate a critical awareness of issues surrounding history from more than one time period and contemporary history teaching; (2000 words)

Some key findings from the Ofsted teaching report in 2010 offer an insight into the broader aspect of teaching History across the curriculum and how well it was found that pupils are learning. It was found that as a general History was not taught at its greatest potential at Key Stage Three (KS3) particularly due to the changes in the whole school curriculum were having a negative impact on teaching and learning. In contrast to this, generally Key Stage Four (KS4) was taught very well and clear expectations were set out allowing them to prepare well for public examinations. The generalised reasons which will be explained in further detail for these notable differences between the key stages was generally students to express their free will and allow their minds to accept concepts they have previously not studied.


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