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The Condition of History in our Secondary Schools

David Keen

What do New Zealand secondary school students think of History?
Starting from an analysis of the entry statistics for School Certificate, University Entrance and Scholarship examinations from 1969 to 1975 to compare trends in History with those in other subjects, my study went on with a survey of pupil perceptions of History and Social Studies.
Some 31 secondary schools, mainly in the Waikato-Bay of Plenty region and representing both urban and rural catchment areas, were contacted: 14 by personal visits, the remainder by mail. The 2,000 pupils who completed questionnaires included approximately 25 percent who were 4th formers, and the rest were 5th, 6th and 7th formers.
Both structured and unstructured questionnaires were used, and these were administered to both History and non-History classes. Where schools were visited personally, there were opportunities for discussion with the students. In addition, History and Social Studies staff from some fifty schools assisted the inquiry with statements of opinion, as did approximately 300 students from Hamilton Teachers' College and the University of Waikato.

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