Social Tensions in Studying Ancient History
This article reports on the findings of an investigation into the tensions perceived by students aged 14-15 studying Ancient History in England, between their interest in the ancient world itself and the status of Ancient History as a curriculum subject. We use Young’s distinction between Powerful Knowledge and Knowledge of the Powerful as a critical tool. The empirical data arise from an interview study across three different school communities in England of 14-15 year old students studying Ancient History as a curriculum subject. 32 students took part in the interview study across the three schools. Students focused on the ancient world’s personal relevance for their own lives. They also ascribed value not just to expertise about the ancient world but to understanding how others responded to it. However, the students all felt that studying Ancient History was a sign of an elite and privileged education, an image with which they did not feel entirely comfortable.