Why don’t we have set texts in history? 

Clio et cetera

Short extracts of sources or interpretations have been a feature of history exams for decades, and, I would argue, they have never been done well. For those unfamiliar with how this works, in most history exams pupils get given a short extract of a contemporary source or subsequent interpretation accompanied by pitifully little contextual information, and then they are expected to use those sources and interpretations to answer questions. We have now just about moved on from dire questions such as ‘is this source reliable?’ but the questions that remain (‘how far does Source A support…?’) are hardly great questions. The underlying weakness in all of these is that, in order to make sense of a source or an interpretation, one needs to know a great deal about the context of that particular source or interpretation. In no way does the use of sources in history exams reflect what…

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