The Humanities Association – Who we are and who we were
The Humanities Association (until 1991 the association was called the Integrated Humanities Association) held its inaugural conference in October 1984 and for over 30 years has provided through its conferences, meetings, publications and resources a forum for the discussion of radical curriculum design and pedagogy in the humanities. Although in its early years the Humanities Association was closely associated with new examinations in Integrated Humanities the association was never a narrow subject association.
The Humanities Association stood in the rich tradition of radical education theory from the 1960’s and 70’s which raised questions about the nature and purpose of the curriculum, new developments and perspectives in the teaching of history and geography and the emergence of the social sciences in the school curriculum. The association stood for: the recognition of the crucial importance of the humanities dimension in learning rather than the promotion of any particular subject or course, the connections between the subjects of the humanities in supporting children’s understanding of their world and the exploration of what was the nature and process of effective learning in the humanities. Most importantly of all the work and growth of the association took place at a time when teachers and schools still enjoyed a significant control over what was taught and how it was delivered. This was to make this period one of the most exciting and productive in the history of the curriculum in which teachers made full use of their creativity and enthusiasm to develop dynamic and exciting learning experiences in the humanities.
Even at the time of its formation the curriculum had become a contested area. The state mounted increasingly concerted attacks on the teacher-controlled curriculum and sought to impose a narrow traditional set of subjects. In this context the Humanities Association campaigned for the recognition of the importance of the humanities and to support innovation within the National Curriculum.
The association faced difficulties: increasing state hostility to curriculum innovation, the strengthening of the traditional curriculum, financial limitations on the ability of schools to support training and curriculum design and the dismantling of local authority advisory services and curriculum support organisations.
The Humanities Association focused on a range of disciplines which contribute to the understanding of human experience and the values which underpin the study of the humanities. This distinguished the Humanities Association from other subject associations which acted as interest groups for the promotion of specific subjects. As a consequence, the Humanities Association found it difficult was also unable to attract the support which subject associations usually had access to: subjects in higher education, official support and sponsorship and a clearly defined target membership. The association ceased to become a membership organisation and found it increasingly difficult to maintain conferences, publications and regular meetings.
The Humanities Association believes that it still has a contribution to make to humanities teaching. To this effect it will maintain this website to provide access to its extensive archives on humanities teaching which includes resources, articles and commentaries on debates and issues in the humanities over the last few decades. We will also attempt to maintain a commentary on issues and developments in education and to signpost new initiatives and areas of interest in humanities teaching.
This website is dedicated to all those who have supported the Humanities Association over the years as members, executive committee members, participants in our conferences and readers of our journals. Most importantly It is also dedicated to all those teachers who have and continue to make the humanities a vibrant, relevant and exciting area of study for our children. for our children. children.