History Teaching in Malta

Yosanne Vella


This paper provides a brief description on the development of Maltese education in general and then goes into detail on the development of history pedagogy in Malta. For a long time the teaching of history reflected the Maltese educational culture, with its characteristic features of pupil selection, considerable teacher direction, pupil passivity, transmission pedagogy and emphasis on outcomes measured by final tests and examinations. ‘The traditional’ teacher-centred approach and most history lessons were of the ‘lecture-type’ with heavy emphasis on the use of the textbook, note-taking, frequent testing and stress on the summative examination at the end of the year. However, from the 1980s onward there was a move towards ‘New History’ methods, the Source and Skills based history teaching approach initiated in England in the late 1960s. This paper explains how this method slowly became established in Malta’s schools. There is a discussion on the struggles for history to retain its place in the Maltese Curriculum as developments occur. On the one hand, history as a school subject does not have a high status; it is not given much importance by either schools or the education department, although it was quite favoured in particular individual schools, it does not enjoy general popularity. On the other hand as far as the actual pedagogy of the subject is concerned significant advances have been made, with Malta figuring quite high on the scale in international surveys when comparing ‘source method use’ in different European countries1.

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