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An examination of the value of history in the updated carriculum 2015 – 2022

Tatenda
Freeman Murenjekwa
The
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MOPSE) guided by the Curriculum
Framework for Primary and Secondary Education (CFPSE) 2015-2022 thrived to make
history a real, crucial, interesting and life-oriented subject. The updated
curriculum championed the ‘new’ history approach which propagated active
participation of learners, skills development, the cultivation of the sense of
time, space and society, development of wisdom, mental training value ,
heritage value, vocational value and training in resolving contemporary social
and individual problems among others. For many years, learners shun history
because of its teaching and learning methods such as dictating notes, note
taking, use of big words which often confuse learners and the way learners were
regarded as passive recipients of the teachers’ knowledge and wisdom. Although
the relevance of history in the updated curriculum 2015-2022 has been secured,
the subject still have certain drawbacks which continue to hinder its place in
schools relating to lack of teaching and learning resources to implement the
‘new ‘history concept and stiff competition from heritage studies. Terms
including History and curriculum are going to be defined and a brief background
to be highlighted as the discussion progresses.
Moyo
and Modiba (2013) defined History as an unending dialogue between the present
and the past. Carr (1987) referred to History as a continuous process of
interaction between the historian and his facts and unending dialogue between
the present and the past. Gondo et al (2019) defined Curriculum as a
specification about the practice of teaching which involves pragmatic efficacy
of the learners’ experience. Aggarwal (2008) notes that curriculum is the pivot
and the hub which all activities in the school revolve. Drawing from the above,
history can therefore be defined as an inquiry into the past, present and
future. Curriculum can also be referred to as a guideline to the process of
teaching and learning.
For
many years, the traditional teaching style or specifically teacher oriented
instruction has been dominant in the teaching and learning of history in
schools. The teaching and learning of history was thus known to be
characterized by the dictating of notes, note-taking and use of big words which
often confuse learners and this created boredom on the part of learners. The
teaching and learning methods employed using rote-learning have almost driven
the subjects into the dustbins of history. The relevance of history in and
outside the school seem to have reached critical stages. Steele (1976) notes
that most learners regarded history as a useless subject that would not benefit
them in real life situation. Mapetere (2013) argues that the ’Old’ History was
the transmission of facts to memory without personal processing of information
on the part of the student-knowledge out there. Dwarko (2007) also indicates
that some parents hold a perception that history offers very slim opportunities
for employment to the extent that they threaten to withdraw their helping hand
to children who happen to dream of pursuing History in life. History was thus
regarded as an abstract subject which was premised on the cram and pass
principle. Mapetere (2013) notes that the child was expected to memorize facts
and reproduce them when required. The teaching and learning methods employed in
history before the updated new curriculum has driven the subject into
disrepute.
The
concept of ‘leaning by doing’ or experiencing which forms the basis for history
teaching and learning in the updated curriculum 2015-2022 propagated its
relevance. The ‘new’ history approach which diverted its course from
rote-learning and or banking concept and advocate for a more practical way of
learning restored the value of history. Dwarko (2007) argues that the
pedagogical practices such as lecture method which does not engage learners
makes History a boring and abstract subject. 
Mapetere (2013) pointed out that in the teaching of history, pupils
should be allowed to discover more than to simply get information from the
teacher. He further notes that the ‘new’ history approach departs from the
concept of generalizing things, dictating notes thus when teaching about Great
Zimbabwe state, field trips should be organized so that learning by
experiencing takes precedence. This can be supported by the Chinese adage which
says, “What I hear, I forget and what I see, I remember.” Learning by doing
gives students the zeal to study history and pursue it to tertiary level. Douch
in Steele (1976) notes that children should not see history as a film in which
they are spectators but see it as a play in which they are actors. The updated
curriculum being the champion of learning by doing strives to avoid boredom on
the part of learners thus keeping history alive. According to Mapetere (2013),
methods like role-play, simulations and drama will helps learners to be players
in History and not spectators. Sugrue (1997) notes that the process of learning
by doing gives learners more central role and this will learners adherence to
their learning. In this regard, one can say the updated curriculum restored the
value of history in schools.
The
new curriculum 2015-2022 championed the development of skills which empowered
History and secured its place in the heart and minds of the learners as well as
the classroom practitioner. Kochhar (1984) notes that History is a subject
which has gone into disrepute because of its dead uniformity and frozen and
fixed account of facts. The new curriculum fosters the ‘new’ History approach
which focusses on the development of the learners’ skills. Mapetere (2013)
argues that skills of selection, analysis, evaluation and empathy which are
central to the ‘new ‘History approach can be used in economics, politics and
even in family life decisions. In this regard, the new history approach tried
to cement the existence of History in the 21st century. Dickson and
Lee (1986) argue that the aim of the new history approach was to consciously
improve pupils’ thinking abilities. Mapetere (2013) argues that guiding
questions should be provided to pupils to help them in researching notes and
that way they may exercise skills of selection, analysis and summarizing. The
capacity to develop these skills played a significant role in making history
real and interesting. Coltham and Fines (1971) mentioned several skills and
abilities developed through the process of studying history including
vocabulary acquisition, analysis, and synthesis, judgment and evaluation as
well as communication skills. Brooks et al (1993) notes that historical study
encourages people to become articulate, especially through group discussions
and places great emphasis upon the basic skills.  There is an urgent necessity of uplifting the
teaching and learning of history. Kochhar (1984) argues that the use of
audio-visual aids can add zest, interest and vitality to any learning situation
and make history a living subject. Brooks et al (1993) pointed out that History
no longer deals with the old bankrupt stock of rote learning and historical
literacy today encompasses a wide range of skills as well as the acquisition of
and understanding of knowledge. Therefore
[M1] ,
the place of history under the confines of the new updated curriculum has been
secured since it is premised on the development of skills.
The
place of history in schools has also been cemented by the vast job
opportunities the subject offers. Prima facie, History has been regarded as a
dead subject which is useless and void in life. Reiner (1961) notes that a
historical scholar is both a research worker and historian. Aggarwal (2008)
notes that the aim of history is to foster vocational value. He further argues
that history provides various openings for persons well qualified in the
subject and they can work as archivists, curators, political journalists,
foreign and military correspondents, teachers in schools, colleges and
universities. The new curriculum lubricated the path for history to be
recognized as a living subject thus through field trips learners will be able
to see opportunities offered by history and will help learners to develop a
positive attitude towards the subject. Gosh (1951) argues that history makes
the boy thoughtful, critical and of a discerning judgment-qualities that he
will need every day of his life when he enters the world. Skills development
helps to emancipate history from mere rejection. The vast job opportunities yet
and yet to be discovered as a result of the updated curriculum 2015-2022 makes
history a subject with substance.
Although
the updated curriculum 2015-2022 has managed to foster the relevance of
history, the subject continued to battle for its survival as a result of lack
of teaching and learning resources. The new curriculum advocated for the use of
Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the teaching and learning
process. Taruvinga and Moyo (2000) discovered that the new history approach has
not meant much to history teaching due to resource unavailability. They further
argue that the economic challenges facing the country is making it a dream to
organize a trip to Great Zimbabwe monuments. The use of ICT by history students
in particular seems to be a mirage given the rate of power-cuts in the country.
In this regard, the place of history in the updated curriculum seem to be
hindered by resource unavailability. Given the above, one can say the new
curriculum 2015-2022 was adopted on an uneven ground.
The
value of history in the updated curriculum has been infringed by stiff
competition emanating from heritage studies. The updated curriculum has fused
some components of history within the study of heritage which makes History a
silent subject crying for its survival in the background. The lower classes as
directed by the new curriculum are now partaking heritage studies in place of
history. However Heritage studies can be referred to as modified History given
the shock of wave that left history almost drowned. Basing on the above, the
place of History in the updated curriculum has been curtailed as a result of
stiff competition from heritage studies.
The
discussion has highlighted that the new curriculum 2015-2022 has largely
secured a place for the study of History given its focus on learning by doing
and experimenting, development of skills and its promises on the vast job
opportunities offered by history. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary
Education oriented new curriculum managed to divert the teaching and learning
of history from rote learning, dictating notes and note- taking. The
traditional teaching style often caused boredom on the part of learners and
makes history to be labelled a dead and abstract subject. The new curriculum
came in as a panacea to promote the relevance of history in this 21st
century. The major tenants of the updated curriculum which includes learning by
experimenting has managed to retrieve the learner’s interests in the subject
and help learners to develop skills of analyzing, evaluating, summarizing,
selection and empathy which are central to the new history approach. Although
the new curriculum has managed to empower history in as far as its relevance is
concerned, history still has certain drawbacks which hinder its recognition in
the 21st century such as lack of teaching and learning resources as
a result of economic constrains and also stiff competition from heritage
studies which makes history to cry in the background for its rescue. The
updated curriculum propagated the value of history.
REFERENCES
Aggarwal.
J.C. (2008). Teaching of History: A
practical approach
(.4th
Ed).vikas publishing house. New Delhi.
Brooks,
Aris. M and Perry.I.S. (1993).The
effective teaching of History,
Longman .London.
Carr.E.H.
(1987). What is History? Hammond
sworth .Penguin.
Coltham.C
and Fines.J. (1971). Educational
objectives for the study of History
. The Historical Association.
Dickson.
A and Lee. P. (1986). History teaching
and historical understanding
. Heinemann. London
Dwarko.
D.A. (2007). History- the ailing subject: the need for revival in the 21st
century. In Amenumey. D.E.K. Challenges
of education in Ghana in the 21st century
. Woeli publishing
services. Accra
Gondo
Reniko et al. (2019). Issues surrounding the updated Secondary school
curriculum in Zimbabwe, European Journal
of Social Sciences Studies
, Vol. 4. (2)
Kochhar.S.K.
(1984). Teaching of History. Sterling
publishers. New Delhi
Mapetere.K.
(2013). The New History concept.
Greener Journal of Educational research. Vol.3. (3)
Modiba.M
and Moyo. N. (2013). “Who does the
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in Zimbabwe
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(1961). History: Its purpose and method.
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(1976). Developments in History teaching.
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