This year has proved to be a challenging one for all academic departments, given the fact that grades 10 and 11 are under the OBE system and grade 12 was still under the old system that many of us have become used to. In spite of these challenges, 2007 was an exciting and entertaining year and the history department managed the transition well.
The Class of 2007 achieved 33 distinctions, a most pleasing result.
History may be a subject about the past but learners have realised that the reason we look back on the past is to better equip us for the future. In our history lessons we find it very easy to make sure that our subject is topical and relevant to learners in 2007. The South African government?s recent crackdown on credit spending and the determination to keep inflation low at the expense of interest rates links directly to our studies of the Great Depression and the Wall Street Crash of 1929. The current crises in Myanmar and Pakistan, particularly the attitudes of those dictatorships in terms of their leadership style, can be linked to themes from our studies of Stalinism, Nazism and Apartheid South Africa. The eagerness of America to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq was questioned by our learners after their studies of WW2, when it became obvious to them that war is a dangerous business, not to be taken lightly. True students of history begin to realise that although technology changes the world, social relations and the basic questions about rights, citizenship and social order never changes. From history we can avoid the mistakes of the past as well as draw from previous successes.
Under OBE the teaching methods in Grade 10 and 11 have changed quite substantially. History had a reputation for being the ?learning subject?, where children were spoon-fed ?all those names and dates? and was then expected to regurgitate them in the exam. This was never entirely accurate and under OBE nothing could be further from the truth. Essays are still written and learning is required but the focus is not on how much can be remembered but much more on the quality of the arguments made and the learner?s ability to use facts to make broader connections. OBE also brings with it much more time spent evaluating historical sources. Learners are taught the skills of analysis and interpretation and how to read reports with a critical eye. A skilled learner will learn the difference between fact and opinion, how to identify bias and how to do their own research. These skills equip learners as historians, but lessons can also be learnt about how to interpret news broadcasts, party political statements and anything produced by the media. History teaches learners not just to ask questions, but which questions to ask.
This year saw 3 sets for history in grade 12 and they had a lot to live up to. Last year?s results were a Glenwood record and the challenge was set for the Matrics of 2007. Kameel Premhid (famous for his 12 page essays!) leads the pack but there are many gifted learners in our 2007 group and we can only wish them all the best. If nothing else they will all find that when they move out into the wide world they will be advantaged by having taken the best subject there is, the subject that is about life? History.
Mrs. A. Barnes