|Author(s)||Maria Luisa A. Varela de Freitas|
|Editor||A. Ross, Learning for Democratic Europe|
This paper discusses good practices; that is, what I think good practices in higher education teaching should be, and specifically those concerned with history teaching. It will describe how my own teaching experience and reading contributed to planning a new curriculum for elementary teacher training and particularly a social sciences course in this. In the University of Minho elementary teachers' training curriculum the course Themes and Itineraries of Portuguese History (TIPH) is one of five social sciences courses. The others in the group are: Social Science: Issues and Methodologies (1st semester), Education for Social Communication (2nd semester), Space and Society (3rd semester) and Workshop on Teaching Social Studies (4th year). The philosophy of the elementary teachers' training curriculum is not clear-cut because three departments are involved (Sciences of Education, Integrated Science and Mother Language, Artistic Expressions and Physical Education), and they do not share the same philosophy and practices. Even within each department there are differences between areas. According to Ross's analysis, (2000, pp. 91-94) curricula may be content-driven, objectives-driven and/or process-driven. Our current teacher training programme is more content-driven than the previous1 curriculum. For instance, although the arts used in theory to be integrated (all the courses were called Movement and Art Education), in practice they were not. In this new curriculum, they constitute truly separate courses. There are also areas where the didactics are integrated within the traditional disciplines, such as history, but in other areas there exist traditional courses, as for example in Natural Sciences, and courses named Didactics of Natural Sciences. On the other hand the curriculum could be seen as more objectives-driven than its predecessor because of a strong generalised claim about the lack of students' knowledge of basic subjects such as mathematics, natural sciences, and the history and geography of Portugal. Consequently, having in mind their future profession, the instrumental purposes of this curriculum are emphasised. However, since several faculty members stress the importance of the process over the product, it is also process-driven. In some course descriptions the need for reflection is made evident, but instrumental purposes can be discerned which relate the theories students learn to the practice they are beginning to experience. I have taught courses on the Bachelors' degree in Elementary Education for several years. For the last five years I have taught at the University of Minho, following a curriculum designed in the late eighties. I taught the first year course Social Science I ? Foundations (an introductory course of methodology of social science) in a different manner to the way it had previously been taught. I organised the course in four modules; an introduction to social science followed by modules that focused on geography, history and anthropology2. Sometimes these three modules were integrated, but at other times were framed as more traditional disciplines. The second semester-long course Social Science II ? Didactics deals with appropriate methods of teaching social studies at elementary schools. Despite my intention to relate the two courses, it sometimes seemed that the students had forgotten most of what they had learned in the preceding year.