It's a long time since I was at school and I only did two years of history at secondary school. I couldn't wait to drop it as it was such a boring and dry subject. It was okay at primary school, when we covered stuff like the French Revolution (even learning the La Marseillaise, which I can still just about sing along with). I loved the history in my Blue Peter Annuals - Marie Antoinette (I'm sensing a theme here) and Grace Darling.
Secondary School history seemed to be all about who fought who. Pretty well nothing that caught my interest. We did also cover areas like the industrial revolution but it was all facts, with nothing about the humanity of it, nothing of the real people, nothing that made me feel connected to the past.
So, I took 3 Sciences at school to get away from history only to discover that I had to do an hour of history every week anyway (apparently to ensure that we had a rounded education). I dreaded it, such was my hatred of History, but was surprised to discover that there was more to history than kings and war. We covered subjects like the history of local place names - with only a slight disappointment that Stamperland (where I lived) was so called because the land had belonged to Mr Stamper (duh) - and historical murders (great fun for 15 year olds).
Over the years I took a bit of an interest in women's history but this really only consisted of the "usual suspects" - Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Fry, the Pankhursts. A few scattered women among all the men, or rather, among all the kings and generals.
My renewed interest came about only when I delved into the background of my own family (or, more specifically, my Great Great Granny Barton), and went off on all sorts of tangents looking into the other Temperance women and the kinds of social reform they were otherwise involved in.
I do realise that the Temperance workers and Social Reformers may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I'd bet there's something out there in the past that will thrill you - maybe the history of pirates, horticulture, trains, espionage, vaudeville, football ... Take your pick !
Anyway, my point is this - for the most part, the new national curriculum looks about as gripping as history was in my day.
KS1 looks okay (since I'm rather keen on the whole heros thing) but (and bearing in mind that I'm not a "real" historian) I don't see how you can cover the ‘essential chronology of Britain’s history’ in KS2 without it boiling down to a dry list of things that happened and when they happened. Where are teachers going to fit in the inspirational or the exciting? How are students meant to feel connected or engaged? KS3 (assuming anyone carries on past KS2) looks so heavy that anyone but the most hardened academic will lose the will to live. Maybe this is the point - the current Government seem to see no value in the humanities so why not make sure the subjects have as narrow an appeal as possible.
Over the past few years I've made numerous little discoveries that have truly thrilled me. I've discovered that women were working in all sorts of areas, reforming society, and making their mark and not just in suffrage and nursing. I've discovered joy in primary sources and have found bizarre little snippets like Oswald Mosley being a proponent of wholemeal bread or the inventor of the wrist watch. I've read reportage about a zeppelin flying over London in WW1 and newspaper reports about the Titanic. Fantastic stuff.
As a result, I've started this website, have transcribed over 120,000 lines of text in archived newspapers, am collating newspaper reports and putting together a history of the "queen of Scottish orators" and am working on her biography. I love it but I do wonder how much I could have achieved if I hadn't lost 40 years through being thoroughly put off history by a dull dull dull curriculum.
I wish teaching could be about inspiring and educating young people. I wish it could lead to them really wanting to learn for the sake of learning and to learn to think and care about the world. I'm sure teachers will do their best to inspire and engage in spite of the new curriculum but think too that there are an awful lot of children out there who, like me, will decide that history is indeed bunk. Shame.