“We’ve identified, for example in history, an understanding of the
relations between crown and parliament. We’ve identified a need to
understand the industrial revolution, the two world wars. They are fixed
and enduring things that must be taught. We must for example teach about
the Glorious Revolution of 1688 if you are dealing with crown and
parliament. But there are other things that happened around that time
that are no longer relevant… ”
Which is nice – obviously, if teachers are interested in finding out more about 1688, they should buy my book ‘The Glorious Revolution: 1688 and Britain’s Fight for Liberty’.
However, casting 1688 only in terms of ‘relations between Crown and Parliament’ does seem to be, well, a rather Whiggish way of looking things. What about the impact of 1688 on the expansion of Britain’s role in the slave trade? Or its impact upon the press and print? Or upon attitudes to public morality? Aren’t these relevant too?
And Ken’s closing sentence is likely to send a shiver down the spine of any medievalist listening. I was immediately reminded of a big-eared former education secretary’s (Charles Clark) comments that people working on any period of history before 1500 were ‘ornamental’.
History is still not going to be made compulsory under the revised national curriculum for students over 14 and all this talk of the Glorious Rev and the Industrial Rev will have to be squeezed in between advising students not to eat too many hamburgers, to wear condoms when having sex and giving them guidance on the ins and outs of getting a mortgage (not all at the same time, presumably).
This looks like more of the same of New Labour’s highly functionalist attitude to education – bent towards the acquisition of generic skills to improve employability at the expense of the academic content of courses- with a sop to Daily Telegraph readers by mentioning some historical events that happened in their lifetimes.