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history op-ed

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Is the history national curriculum statement (NCS) working? The reason for the history curriculum was to be used as a document to be able to help the history teachers understand and compose a history syllabus. I'm my op-ed I will discuss the reasoning behind the NCS, discuss is advantages a nd disadvantages and will also discuss if in my opinion wither it is working in the South African context and how it should be changed.

The NCS is a document designed to help teachers in the teaching of history by providing a simple syllabus to follow and revise. To understand the reasoning re asoning behind this change to the syllabus we must understand briefly how the old, apartheid syllabus worked. The apartheid syllabus was a very biased syllabus that concentrated on being very exclusive and having large political agenda, the main point of this agenda was segregations and separation of blacks and whites and constricting the rights of black  South Africans. History was perceptually biased as we know that how people think  off there pasts that this affects how they view the present.

The new curriculum attempts to address these issues by a changing the whole curriculum to be much more inclusive and to teach a much broader set of history then the apartheid history did that covers both Afro-centric and euro-centric points of view that tries to incorporate all south African cultures into its mix. The political agenda though present in the document is not as pronounced and is driven much more to nation building then it is towards indoctrination like the apartheid curriculum was.

So what are the strengths of the NCS? For one it is a very inclusive document that tries to cover a large amount of content that was left out in the previous curriculum this not only allows it to be less prejudice but allows it to aid in building cultural identity. The reasoning behind this as more different topics is covered in history the more culturally aware pupils become and therefore not only do they start to understand there own history but also start to understand the history of others. What also make it a strong curriculum are the choices it gives to teachers and the flexibility of the curriculum. This flexibility allows for the teacher a great deal of subject choice and allows the ability to pick key topics and fit them into the curriculum and make it important to use.

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So what are some of the weakness of the NCS? The document is very difficult to follow and is far from user friendly. The reason is that is comes out feeling scattered with much of the knowledge need for teaching in different places inside the document and no real set way that tells you in which order to read it. This will often leave a newer teacher confused and baffled on how to proceed with there teaching. The other  issues that I find are weaknesses are in fact also some of its strengths. For example the idea of inclusiveness though necessary dilutes the content to much making it more difficult to create a planned and well implemented curriculum. The flexibility of the document also causes problems mainly because of how badly the structure of the document is. The reason is because that so few teachers can read the document they find them selves floundering for support in being able to create a curriculum. With out more forms of structure the curriculum that these teachers try to create become weaker then was originally intended and makes for a weaker classroom context.

Is the NCS working in the South African context? I would say no, my reasoning behind this is that despite it being a much better curriculum then the apartheid curriculum it is still very flawed because we have to take into account how little practical use the document has when it is so badly structured. This leaves lots of  confusion and problems especially in under resourced schools were some teachers only have diplomas or even worse are not qualified at all. For these types of teachers building a curriculum soughed for there pupils are a very difficult undertaking that is negatively impacts on the pupil’s lives and hurts there chances in eh future.

So what do I think can be done about it? Firstly and most importantly the structure of  the document needs to be addresses. In its current state it is far too difficult to translate, it should in my opinion have lots more structure to it in an easy to follow format with a content page that list the grades and a very concise curriculum. I believe that inhibiting flexibility for more structure will allow for a better curriculum to not only follow but to implement. I think that we should try to take a few steps back and understand that to much change to quickly cause problems, we should focus more on

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In conclusion though the document we call the National curriculum statement was a necessary document after the indoctrination of apartheid it wasn’t implemented very well though it tried very hard to be inclusive it sacrificed to much structure to achieve this and in the process became hard to use and hard to work with. Though it isn’t far  gone and can be corrected if a person with brains and the understanding of what it is like to teach in the modern era was the ones to have created it then the document would properly be spot on and functioning till then we need to try our best with what we have.

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