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History award

History journal honours prof emeritus

Award-winning article explores H.G. Wells influence on history in schools

Having made a career out of teaching teachers of history, Faculty of Education professor emeritus Ken Osborne has now turned to studying the history of teaching history.

And he’s been recognized for that work as the recipient of the Canadian History of Education Association Founders’ Prize for 2016 for the best English language article published in the journal Historical Studies in Education.

“It’s always gratifying to be recognized. I am very pleased to be given such an award, because I certainly didn’t expect it,” Osborne said, adding a journal committee selected his article without it having been submitted for consideration.

Titled, “ ‘One Great Epic Unfolding’: H.G. Wells and the Interwar Debate on the Teaching of History” (Historical Studies in Education, 26, 2 (Fall 2014): 1-29), the article explores the English writer’s efforts to change how history was taught between the two World Wars. Although Wells is well known for penning War of the Worlds, famously read by Orson Welles in a radio broadcast that inspired widespread panic, the English author was also a noted historian and political activist. Convinced that history teachers were largely responsible for the rise of aggressive nationalistic attitudes that led to the First World War, Wells argued that a reformed history curriculum focusing on global history in all of the world’s schools could prevent a second world war. Ultimately, Wells failed to convince lawmakers, leading to his famous quote: “God damn you all, I told you so.” Osborne’s award-winning article delves into the arguments used to advance Wells’ case.

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