What Impact does Background have on Initial Teacher Trainees’ Conceptions of Teaching History to Primary School Pupils?

By Matthew Sossick.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article arises from a project on the nature of primary school teachers’ initial conceptions of historical learning. There was a sense from the author’s situated practice that trainees’ perceptions of what constitutes worthwhile learning about history is determined in significant part by their backgrounds and primarily their experiences of being taught history at school. Given the limited experience of formal history education for many trainees beyond the age of fourteen, background or the lack of background exposure seemed to have a significant influence in determining conceptions of history. Paired interviews of trainees were undertaken to ascertain their memories of being taught history. The trainees were also asked to comment on their own approaches to working with historical sources to help cast light on whether these conceptions influenced their approach to teaching and learning about primary history. Their answers appeared to demonstrate the way that prior learning can shape prospective teachers’ approaches to teaching history. It may also indicate the need for continued professional development for trainees and newly qualified teachers to give them more powerful conceptions of disciplinary approaches to teaching and learning the subject.

Keywords: Primary History Education, Initial Teacher Trainees

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp.211-222. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 768.260KB).

Matthew Sossick

Lecturer, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University, Kingston Upon Thames, UK

I was a secondary school history teacher in England for ten years. I later became the Head of Humanities in two South London schools, with responsibility for the teaching of history, geography and religious education. I then moved to Kingston University where I now work full time lecturing undergraduates and postgraduates about teaching history in primary schools, and general professional knowledge and understanding. I have also taught at Roehampton University where I also worked on their professional studies course and lectured on the secondary history PGCE. I have been closely involved in establishing links between Kingston University and the Museum, Libraries and Archives service, and the Holocaust Education Trust.


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