Some thoughts on Knowledge in KS3
These notes are about historical knowledge - but not about the minutiae of which bits of content should be in the KS3 curriculum. Instead they try to tackle three larger questions, the first two of which should perhaps be answered before anyone gets to the stage of selecting the detailed content to teach.
These three questions these notes address are:
1. How does knowledge fit into overall plan of KS3 History?
2. What kind of historical knowledge constitutes a desirable to-be-aimed-for 'take-away' when children complete KS3 History?
3. What do we want students to know and understand about individual events and people and, perhaps, individual themes within KS3 History?
Three points of importance to note, as these are by no means the only questions to be asked about ‘knowledge’:
a) by focusing on knowledge I’m not suggesting that concepts and skills don’t have a place in the History curriculum. Far from it – they’re essential components as question 1 demonstrates.
b) I haven’t addressed the balance of British to other histories question here – not because it isn’t important but because that would have taken me into ‘what history?’, a different kind of question to those addressed below.
c) I’ve worked within the content framework that’s existed for KS3 since the National Curriculum was introduced. There are valid questions to be asked about the limitations of this NC coverage in terms of both chronology and significance but as 99% of teachers are focused on the statutory requirements it would be arrogant to ignore them and start from somewhere completely different.
1. How does knowledge fit into overall plan of KS3 History? [ click here ]
2. What kind of historical knowledge constitutes a desirable to-be-aimed-for 'take-away' when children complete KS3 History? [ click here ]
3. What do we want students to know and understand about individual events and people and, perhaps, individual themes within KS3 History? [ click here ]
These thoughts have been offered somewhat hesitantly in the hope that they may help departments think constructively about some ‘knowledge’ issues as a background to making choices about what to include in their scheme of work. In part my hesitation stems from the fact that I’ve written this ‘out of my head’ (maybe ‘out of experience’ would be a fairer way of putting it) – it’s not based on extensive reading of articles or educational literature. Some readers may feel this is a severe limitation but time doesn’t expand to make everything possible and I’ve chosen to hammer out ideas rather than sit and read. I hope this helps stimulate some ideas and maybe even lead to greater enjoyment and sense of achievement for both students and teachers.