West, John (1981) Children's awareness of the past. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

This study is about high expectation of Primary School children's abilities, with particular reference to their perception of historical time. Earlier research in this field, mostly negative, has been taken as the basis of a new approach involving larger samples and a longitudinal study over a period of six years. More than 1250 children in thirty schools were continuously engaged from the ages of seven to eleven. It was intended to discover whether a specific curriculum, devised to develop children's skills in recognising and interpreting evidence from the past, would produce any significant improvement in performance with specially devised tests. We could also discover whether an untutored control group demonstrated latent skills in the same area of learning. The major criteria of the study are the concepts of evidence, authenticity and. time-placing, more particularly in terms of sequence and seriation rather than of duration. There has been no attempt to identify 'concepts of time', although reference is made to Piagetian-inspired investigations. The main concern has been with those skills which Primary School children might be expected to demonstrate, most importantly their development of expressive language. A battery of twenty-five tests was developed from the curriculum offered to the classes year by year. These were, successively, picture interpretation tests, picture-interpretation and documentary analysis. Each set of tests is the basis of a central Chapter of this thesis. Certain conclusions are possible. Firstly, earlier findings have been substantially extended by means of larger samples over an adequate period of time. Secondly, the results of individual children and different schools are seen to differ widely. The influence of Zeitgeist is consequently examined by means of a computerized analysis, both of the whole pilot population and, more searchingly, of a random sample from that group. Finally, average children in both pilot and control groups are found to command more ability between the ages of seven and eleven than was previously supposed. These skills are seen to be capable of continuous gradual development which responds to the systematic enrichment of a special curriculum. More should be done about this area of children's development in English Primary Schools.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2019 10:09
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2019 10:09
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/5856

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