William Sheehan

Doctor of Philosophy, (Education)
Study Completed: 2009
College of Education


Thesis Title
'Defending the high ground' The transformation of the discipline of history into a senior secondary school subject: A New Zealand curriculum debate

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Mr Sheehan’s thesis examines the development of the New Zealand history curriculum in the late twentieth century. History education in New Zealand has stood apart from international trends in that the history teaching community has prioritised English history and generally been reluctant to engage with the history of this country. Also, while in the international arena the history curriculum is largely the preserve of government agencies, in New Zealand dominant personalities in the history teaching community have had a disproportionate influence and shaped the curriculum to reflect their own interests. They have seen the senior secondary school as a microcosm of university and resisted liberal attempts to reshape the curriculum to be socially relevant or reflect contemporary developments in the parent discipline. The thesis serves as a case study of the transformation of an academic discipline into a senior secondary school subject and provides a historical perspective on recent curriculum initiatives.

Professor Roger Openshaw
Professor Peter Lineham

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