Thursday, March 20, 2008

Brits announce new ancient history curriculum

I wish curriculum in the United States would incorporate a similar study of ancient history that has been announced in Britain. When I was young, the paltry 200 years of American history consumed most of the history curriculum taught in K-12.

"Teenagers will be able to study the history behind Hollywood blockbusters like Troy and Alexander for a new GCSE it has been announced.

The OCR exam board is devising the ancient history GCSE to cater for a surge in interest in the Romans and ancient Greeks.

Pupils will learn about literature and art and study archaeological evidence for the qualification, which will be taught in schools from September next year.

Clara Kenyon, director of qualifications at OCR, said: "Now GCSE students can study the real history behind the movies and increase their understanding of the great ancient empires."

The course will cover the foundation of Rome, Greece and the Persian wars, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Cleopatra and Agrippina the Younger.

Teenagers will focus on the study of original sources, such as archaeological evidence and literature in translation.

Pupils will also be able to study aspects of other ancient civilisations, including the Egyptians, the Minoans, Mycenae, the Persian Empire, the Hellenistic world and the Celts.

Hollywood has produced a steady stream of big budget films based on tales from the classical world in recent years, including Troy, starring Brad Pitt as Achilles, and Alexander, in which Colin Farrell played the title role.

Professor Tom Harrison, chairman of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers, welcomed the new course.

He said: "This confirms the growth in the popularity of ancient history as an academic subject. With the huge public interest in the ancient world, classics nationally is buoyant and this new qualification will bring the subject to a younger, even broader, audience."

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