The ‘Teaching Women’s History’ resource site is part of ‘Moving Beyond Boundaries: Gender, Knowledge, History’, an AHRC funded student-led skills development programme run in 2014 by Abigail Tazzyman and Bridget Lockyer from the Centre for Women’s Studies, University of York. The project has also worked in collaboration with the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association (FWSA) and the Historical Association (HA).
As changes to the history curriculum came into force in September 2014 and in light of the recent and successful campaign to have historical women represented on British bank notes, Moving Beyond Boundaries focused on how women’s history is taught in secondary schools.
Engaging with women’s history can be transformative, a way to understand women’s past experiences and to reflect on women’s position in contemporary society. Yet history education, across all levels, is often patchy when it comes to the history of women, with the tendency to focus on one or two well-known (usually elite) female historical figures. The inclusion of women’s history in this way can seem tokenistic, separate from the ‘real history’ being written about and discussed.
The first stage of this project was based in Huntington School in York. Postgraduate students were trained to develop and deliver interactive workshops on elements of women’s history not usually explored in schools. These were delivered to sixth-form pupils from Huntington, Fulford and Bootham schools in York. These workshops gave students a greater and more diverse knowledge of women’s history, as well as encouraging independent thought and critical engagement with their own curriculum (for more details, see our blog posts on the first and final workshops, as well as this post from one our students).
The second stage of the project involved talking to history teachers and other stakeholders. Here we discussed the existing issues with the history curriculum, including the representation of women, and explored how the new curriculum would impact on the teaching of women’s history.
The ‘Teaching Women’s History’ resource website has been developed in response to this feedback from student and teachers. We hope that by providing useful and free resources for teachers they will be able to include a greater volume and variety of women’s history in their lessons.
The FWSA hopes to develop and roll-out similar schemes over the next few years, expanding the geographical focus and training more postgraduates. We hope that this pilot will be used as model when developing these future programmes. If you have any ideas or suggestions about this project or future projects please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project aimed to open a dialogue on issues of gender representation and inequality in the school curriculum with researchers who work in this general field. To do this, we have worked closely we have worked closely with the HA, a national organisation of 6000 members who advise on curriculum issues at all levels, informing policy makers and ministers.