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The Causes of Lack of Interest in History Education in Some Selected Secondary Schools

The Causes of Lack of Interest in History Education in Some Selected Secondary Schools in Kaduna South Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Nigeria.

The literature review for this study is under the following sub-headings; the concept and scope of history,the qualities/values of history, the sources of history, various methods of teaching history, audio-visual in the teaching of history, problems affecting the teaching of history, students and lack o interest towards history.

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2.2 The Concept and Scope of History

History is a body of knowledge about the past, especially the past acts of man in the society and consists of fact ascertained through honest inquiry, as well as inferences, interpretations and generalization arrived at by the historian and is available in the form of time records on paper or in the memory of man, (Ifemeje, 1988). The above definition of history shows some keywords which are always important in trying to explain what history is all about. These words include past, man, acts, records, and society. These words represent strands in the idea of history, which are share by historians; however, differently they are inclined to define the subject. Most historians believe that history deals with activities in the broadest sense of the word the kind of actions it deals with are those that have to do with man, either the actions performed by man or the impact of their occurrence, directly or indirectly on man’s life.

According to Peter (2005), history is the record of human society or world civilization, of change that takes place in the nature of uprising by one set of people against another with the resulting kingdoms and states with their various ranks of the different acti4,ities and occupations of men whether for gaining their livelihood or in the various sciences and craft, and in general, of all the transformations that society undergoes by its very nature.

The type of man whose activities and life engage the attention of the historian is man and his activities or action. The body of knowledge exists in the form of true records build from the examination of raw material of history, the past as it existed. Since hardly any historian can stand up and seriously question the above mentioned aspects of idea of history, one can see Comerger’s (1987) assertion that the word ‘History’ is ambiguous becomes an exaggeration.

Furthermore, Crookall (1972) viewed history as “The whole story of man’s past from the time he lived in caves and used tools made from stones to our age of atomic power and journey to the moon. Any aspect of man’s growth from those earliest times to this twentieth century is a part of history”. Viewing from these definitions, one is made to have that opinion that history is the science of man in time. It is the totality of human experience and leads to understanding and wisdom. History is a branch of knowledge dealing with past events, political, social, and economy of a country. This is why Carr (1961) view history as relationship between the historian and his facts, an unending dialogue between the past and the present.

 

2.3 The Qualities/Values of History

The first and most important quality of history is that, it must be humanistic. This means that history as stated in the definitions is aM about the actions of man and other actions relevant to the life of man which emanate from forces within the world of men at a determinable time and which are perceivable by ordinary human senses and power. This means that actions attributed to gods and spirits are not to be regarded as history.

Another basic quality of history is that it must be rational. This implies that there must be an undisputable reason for accepting the claims of the history as what actually happened in the past. The sole reason for acceptabilty is evidence. As rightly stated by Stayer,(2000). Evidence, for the historian consists of those things that are present before the historian, which convince him that something really happened or that a certain situation really existed in the ‘past. The place of evidence in history is basic. Evidence proves that a given submission by the historian is not fabricated or a mere product of imagination.

Hence, a corollary of rationality in history is that, history must be scientific, which is another quality of history. History is regarded as scientific implies that, what is presented as history should be the product of research not what just springs from the historian’s mind. The historian begins with assumption or ignorance as regards the matter he is about to investigate and then proceed to secure and use sources that in the last analysis, give him the information he requires.

Another quality of history as regards to the nature of the subject is that, history must be society centred. It is therefore based on this quality of history that Carr (1984), stated that we are entitle by convention to reserve the word ‘history for the serious process of inquiry into the past of man in society’. Society centredness also conotes that history is more about society than about individuals. It is quite true that society is made up of individuals yet it is much more than the simple aggregate of individuals. The interrelationship among the individuals and groups, and their physical as well as their social environment, so completely suffuses the life of individual members of the society that the story of life of the individual would be meaningless without the society.

Another basic quality of history is that, it is basically about the past and sometimes, history is bound to be incomplete or in order words, every history is fragmentary. However, as much as a historian tries, it is impossible for him to get everything about every single subject he has decided to investigate. Practical consideration such as the availability of the facts of history, the limited nature of time and facilities at the historian disposal and the ultimate unit set by the humanness of the historian, all combined to make history fragmentary.

 

2.3 The Sources of History

History is obtained through the use of ways, evidence or sources. These sources maybe written or unwritten. The written sources includes diaries, letters, newspapers, periodicals, minutes of meetings, annual reports, memoirs and autobiographies, legislative acts, account of travellers and official dispatches. These sources (written) may also be hand written or printed. They give details of events. For example, the newspapers gave report of the civil war in Nigeria (1967-1970).Newspapers also gave report or accounts of the happenings in Nigeria during the short regime of General Murtala Mohammed. Diaries help to have intimate understanding of what people felt about events, other men and general issues. Minutes of meetings provide information on who met, why, and what was discussed and what was decided at the meeting. Memoirs and autobiographic, these are like the diaries. They give first hand information of events and developments which were personal, witnessed by the writer.

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Sources of history may however not be written. This form or source is known as oral tradition. They are kept not on papers, but in the mind. The witness may decide not to know how to write. He tells his accounts using the words of mouth. It becomes a tradition because the story is kept and passed from father to son from generation to generation. Useful information can be collected through interviews with living witness. For example, in our African society, elders pass on information about the past to the younger ones also transmit same to younger generations. This is called oral tradition.

Another source of history is the work of an archaeologist. He digs the ground to uncover remains that have long been buried. These remains so uncovered, are of immense historical importance. These remains are usually studied and analyzed to determine the possible date of such remains. When the dates are gotten, they help the historians to approximate the time that people lived on an identified spot.Information on physical form, pattern of settlements, the physical nature of those who used to inhabit the buildings, the structure of their society, past distribution of people and their way of life including social.

 

2.4 Various Methods of Teaching History

For effective teaching of history in the Senior Secondary School classes in Nigeria in general, there are various methods that are to be used. Dull history lessons are due to the methods used and not to the subject. (Crookall, 1972).

The importance of arousing interest: In some years back it was thought that the mind of the child is like a blank slate, and to educate him was to write on that slate. Meaning that the teacher’s words when spoken are recorded. It is no longer like this. What is taught must be within the understanding of the students. Unless a topic is linked to the child’s experience and unless the child can understand it, interest will not be aroused.So the teacher should always ask himself, is this topic within the understanding of my students? Unless a topic is linked to the child’s experience and unless the child can understand it, interest will not be aroused.So the teacher should not always ask himself, is this topic within the understanding of my students? If the answer is “Yes” then the teacher also ask himself, what is the best way of linking it to their experience, either real or imaginative.

  1. The Importance of Activity: The students should be active in the learning process. It is believed that students remember more when they act, than when they are just passive listeners what the students does is more important that what the teacher does. Teaching is dynamic and revolutionary, today, than what it used to be in the recent past. Involvement of students in activity has been found to be efficient and result oriented.
  2. The Visual Approach: This approach goes to confirm the old adage that “seeing is believing”. It explains that the sense of sight is another effective organ of learning. Teaching the history of the British conquest of Nigeria in the 19th century, the teacher will not be effective enough without using a sketch map of Nigeria showing the major areas of conquest. For example, Lagos was annexed in 1861, Benin in 1897 and so on. When the students see this map and the locations of these major areas of conquest and draw the map, it will help in objectives of the lesson.
  • The Continuity of Lesson: The lesson should have both unity and continuity. History is not in segments but a continuity of man’s past. For example, the story of Shehu Usman Dan fodlo should be seen as part of the larger story of Jihads in West Africa. There should be link and flow as history lessons pile up. This will enhance continuity and understanding.
  1. The Need for Preparation: History can only be brought to life when the history teacher prepares for it well. The teacher has to prepare, if he/she wants to achieve his/her objectives. These are the foundations for good history teaching, some more technique of teaching history includes;
  2. Story Telling: “The love of a well told story last as long as life itself” Crookall, Handbook for history teachers in Africa (1976). World greatest teachers have known this and many of them used good stories, relevant enough to catch attention of their listeners. Stories should not occupy the whole lesson period. There must be time to give details; otherwise the story does not come to life. Story telling should be part of the lesson. The teacher should use voice and expression. Gestures and exclamations should also be used intelligently.
  3. Questioning: Questions are very important and are asked by teachers in almost every lesson. Teachers of history should note that there are good and bad questioning. The bad questioning is where the teacher asks questions out of the lesson. Questions should be asked if they are part of the lesson plan.Questions should not be asked in a violent tone of voice. Such questions usually convey threats and if the student does not know the answer, he/she is in for trouble. This will do a lot of harm. Questions should not be centered on one student, they should be distributed.
  4. Exposition: This is another oral method of teaching history, after the story telling and questioning. This method is used to introduce a topic or toexplain a difficult point. Teachers should know what is meant by a “topic” or a “difficult point”. For example, a topic means a theme for discussion, or a subject for conversation. From time to time, points arise which aredifficult for the students to understand, for example, the abolition of slave trade. The British took part in the trade and they were the people whoadvocated for its abolition. The question is why? This is confusing, unless the teacher explains, It was so, because of the industrial revolution, which now needed raw materials instead of human beings.
  5. Notes and Summaries: This is another technique of teaching history. This method is bad especially when it involves dictation or mere copying, thusmaking the students to remain entirely dormant. They should give heading on which to make note and should be taught carefully.
  6. Assignments: The giving of assignments can be of value in almost every stage of learning history. This is commonly known as the “Dalton plan”. These students are to work independently where the teacher can have a good assessment of their performances.
  7. Project: This method can be in groups or individual base. Topics are given or chosen by groups or individuals to make research. Teachers of history guide the students where necessary.

2.5 Audio-Visual in the Teaching of History

Audio-visuals are teaching aids that appeal to both hearing and sight. Teaching aids are very important in teaching students in senior secondary school for both bright and dull. For the purpose of understanding this aspect (Audiovisual), it is to be approached in two segments they are, Audio and Visual aids.

  1. Audio aids, this has to do with those aids that appeal only to the ears. For example radio and cassettes. Radios or broadcasts can provide great variety of voices, a dramatic scene with really appropriate noises and backgroundevoking the social details of bygone life, all the excitement and color ofdrama, which the class and teacher can provide for themselves only on few occasions and only after much rehearsal and handwork.Crookall, in his contributions to the importance of radio state; “if a broadcast can bring the past, to life in the imagination of the students, if it can make them feel that history, after all it is not what is in their textbooks, but it is about real men and women, then it would have done immense service”. Another aspect of the audio aids is the cassette or recorded speech. Tape recordings can be used with various books. A history teacher can also record interviews, conversations, sounds for the use in dramatized history and replay them when desired.For example, the teacher can record his own lessons and becomes his own best critic. The voice of his students during historical debates can be recorded or mock trials arranged in the class. The use of audio aids effectively can bring desirable achievement of the teacher lesson objectives.
  2. Visual aids are the second part in our conversations. Visual aids are aids that are only appeal to the sense of sight. These include; charts, atlases, models, etc. visual aids are commonly used in schools. No subject stands to gain more form of the use of visual aids than history. Visual aids are a world in themselves, being brought into the classroom situation.
  3. Pictures are most obvious form of visual aids to learning history and it is the most easily obtained. All the same, there are some schools that pictures cannot be easily found. Other keep collections of picture, but they are not well used. Pictures showing chains of slaves tied, from neck to the other, being matched along, will certainly bring quick imagination into the mind of the students. The students can imagine how slaves were treated and the horror that followed. Therefore, pictures must be clear; otherwise it will convey nothing to those looking at it. Irrelevant details must be omitted, while the omitted, while the important part must stand out well. Pictures must be suitable to the lesson, and should be in good condition.
  4. Waft charts are valuable aids in the teaching of history. Wall charts are meant to be studied a wall chart should be used when its subject matter, or some part of it, is being studied by the class. The teacher should show them how to use the chart and study it. There are also time charts which main purpose is to provide a visual framework which puts people and event into proper sequence of time. For example, it will be wrong to say that, the independence of Nigeria came before the Amalgamation, or that Islam reach Sokoto before Bomb. Events and times must be arranged in a sequential form. Time charts aids memory and makes comparison between people much easier and stimulates and arouses interest.
  • Maps and Atlases are almost as important in the teaching of history as they are in the teaching of geography. Infact, no geography can do better without maps and atlases. The same applies to history, maps in the teaching history are important because, there is the basic act not the history of a country is depending very largely on its climate and its geography. For example, Nigeria is divided into geographical groups like the swamp forests, rain forests, guinea savanna, Sahel savanna. These divisions are forced by geography and climate. Therefore, no effective history teaching without maps and atlases. A history atlas should be part of every student’s equipment, at least in the secondary school.
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2.6 Problems Affecting the Teaching of History

There are problems affecting the teaching of history in the senior secondary schools in Kaduna south local government area of Kaduna state, Nigeria, some of this problems have to do with the following:

  1. Maintaining professional standard: A teacher of history should never give up his efforts to improve in his professional competence. His knowledge and interest makes him particularly conscious of what education means to the community and how important it is. That, teachers are competent in their profession. If these key notes mentioned of a teacher of history are lacking then, it becomes a problem and affects the teaching of history.
  2. Understanding the child: The history teacher should seek to understand his students, knowing also their need and interest, the techniques and methods best suitable to them. The absence of these facts, cause problems to the teaching of history. One cannot teach a student effectively without knowing the needs, interests and most importantly the background of the students.
  3. No preparation: Some history teachers teach wrongly because they do not prepare well. A well taught history lesson is that one that is well prepared. Such teaching only confuses students mind thus making the lesson unreal and uninteresting, if no preparation is made previously.A teacher who can get his pupils on such close terms with their historical atlases have done a good job. Projected pictures are only possible where electricity can be obtained. Most educators would agree that any schools with electricity should invest on a film strip projector and gradually build up a collection of filmstrips. History is one of the subjects which can profits greatly from a careful use of filmstrips. Filmstrips are only made for teaching purposes and should be logical in order.

In a nutshell, audio-visual help immensely in the teaching of history. Audio-visual includes also televisions, films, cinemas, video tapes and many others. The students will see and hear what is being said. The audio-visuals capture the attention of students than any other aid.The problem associated with audio-visuals is that, it can only be used where electricity is available.

 

2.7 Students Lack of Interest towards History

Evans (1987), in a study of interest among 300 students in a rural school in Virginia, found out that interest is a residuum of experience by which further activity is conditioned and controlled. In these studies, they found out that lack of interest of students towards a thing affects the way such a thing is done. This study continued to opined that the lack of interest of students towards a particular teaching method goes a long way to affect the reception of such a teaching either positively or negatively. They found out that if students are not interested in a particular progamme, it would be greatly affected either positively or negatively.

A number of Nigerians who are in position to compare the various discipline in terms of their usefulness would like to place history among the least useful of the subjects studied in our secondary schools. “Some policy makers have had occasions to indicate their wish to discourage the study of history. The average student or teacher of history in Nigeria secondary schools is regarded in some quarters as less intelligent or perhaps less lucky than his colleagues in other fields of study” (Barraclough, 1995), had it been more intelligent than he is assumed to be. Some argue silently within themselves, he should have studied the sciences.

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Education department or boards in Nigeria are often very careful in their dealings with teachers of science and offer them different kinds of inducement, but they do not feel any need for such carefulness in their dealings with history teachers.

In parent’s aspect, the same lack of interest is exhibited. It appears that one of the reasons why some parents allow their wards to study history is that they assume that history is ‘easy’ to pass in the high school examinations. To such parent, history is being tolerated as the resort for those considered incapable of pursuing the difficult subjects. In this connection, it should be remarked in passing that no subject is easy or difficult in the absolute sense. What makes the difference is the aptitude of the learner (Daniel, 1997). What looks difficult to a student who has no aptitude or lack of interest for a given subject will appear easy to a student with the required aptitude. Regarding intelligence as a unitary factor is often a mistake made by many people that assume that they know very well what infact they have little idea about.

The lack of interest towards history as mentioned above are obviously wrong, and are due to ignorance of the nature of history and its values to the society. It is normally surprising that such ignorance is sometime exhibited by people who are generally regarded as well informed. Whatever people may have felt or are feeling about the subject, derive from the study of history. It is also observed that parent’s experiences of school and their own early learning at home and at school have played their part in building up their interest and values. Therefore, it is insisted that the school should not tell the students what to believe or value, that these are individual and personal affair. The issue is further complicated because statements of belief, value or interest are subject to a variety of interpretations and because there is a tendency to confuse general values with personal values.

In several ways, the kind of interest a student show about teachers, likes of school work, is almost inevitable the he or she will experience some success and through reinforcement, will work more effectively and achieve more nearly up to his or her capacity. Conversely negative attitude towards school, teachers and subject (history) usually signify that his or her interest are energies are aimed elsewhere, and that he or she will fight attempt to make him or her learn. The orienting functions of interest, that is, their influence on perception leads to the child’s seeing tasks to be learned as pleasant and useless, or as colourless and neutral. The latter type of material is most poorly retained. Another important factor is that interests about oneself are determiners of the kind of approach that a learner makes to a task.

The way in which attributes can interfere with studying history becomes apparent when one considers the kind of attitudes that result from school failure. It is safe to say that the majority school failure disorganizes rather than reorients students. It is in the nature of a person’s ego structure not to accept failure as due to personal inadequacy. Instead, the student is forced into the position attributing lack of success to teacher or school and this serves to block future studies of the subject.

Loree (1995), attributed a child’s interest in school to a number of factors. These factors he maintained are the home, peer group, and other people learning through reading. He was of the opinion that a favourable and unfavourable interest towards the school subject is usually attributed to the type of experience the child is expose to in the school. Loree (Ibid) has been excellent in attributing the source of student’s interest to the experiences the child is exposed to in the school. And some elements of these experiences would be identified in this study.

It has been observed that some students do have lack of interest towards history because of the belief that it is difficult to know what happened or events that took place many years ago even before our generation and the events that happened outside our society. Also, student’s lack of interest in history can also be attributed to the ‘dating’ aspect of history. And also, some students already have the impression that studying various topics in history and learning to remember the dates is very difficult. This belief was handed down by their predecessors who believed that the subject could only be understood with all the dates intact.

In conclusion, according to inadequate preparation of students at the on set, the failure of the teachers to utilize appropriate teaching methods, scope and content of history Syria bus, teacher’s personality and discouragement from peers and parents affects the interest of students towards the study of history in secondary schools. Consequently, knowledge of students lack of interest towards some of the important issues in the society help to bridge the gap between generations and so make contact with students more effectively. It is also the way we see ourselves, we are often very much influenced by the way other people see us. Students in particular, are very easily influenced by others. Finally, apart from other works in the related areas, there are still some grounds to be covered as regards the factors that affect students interest towards the study of history as a senior secondary school subject.

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