Despite continuous crisis for half a century and increasing neglect in schools, qualifications in the humanities still represent ‘powerful knowledge’ to which all pupils should have access. The humanities occupy a special place in the public domain. The language of humanities subjects is that of everyday description and their areas of study reflect areas of public interest.
Although the boundaries of the humanities are porous and unstable, in the English curriculum the humanities are seen mainly as history, geography, citizenship .and religious education. These subjects are themselves subject to change and redefinition and often draw on the knowledge and methodologies of other disciplines such as the social sciences. Although the subjects that make up the humanities are each underpinned by distinct concepts and processes, they share a common focus. Humanities subjects share:
Humanities subjects’ claim to entitlement status rests on their importance in preparing pupils for life in contemporary society, in particular through:
the humanities draw on a range of disciplines, all of which have a valid claim to contribute to an understanding of human experience. These disciplines have their own concepts, ways of seeing the world, consistency and coherence. The practicalities of the curriculum mean that not all can be included as part of a core entitlement for pupils although without all an understanding of human experience is weakened. A curriculum for the humanities should therefore:
In no other subject area is the problem of defining content more obvious than in the humanities. We reject simplistic solutions which at one extreme reject the importance of knowledge and replace it with skills, and at the other seek to provide a detailed selection of knowledge claiming to be all-inclusive or timelessly essential. Humanities content should be based around broad themes together with a clear focus on the core concepts from those subjects. These themes should: