Another topic that needs to be covered at length on this site (and if any reader wants to pitch in with a few paragraphs, these will be much appreciated). To start with, here are Sir David Cannadine's comments as his new book, The Right Kind of History, is published. It is a history of history teaching in this country and a review copy is on its way to me. So I shall be able to write about the book itself.
In the meantime, what has Sir David to say about the present and the future of history teaching in British schools?
According to the BBC and the Guardian, he is advising the government, who is carrying out a revision of the curriculum to leave the content alone but to make the subject compulsory right until 16.
If we must have a compulsory curriculum then history should most definitely be part of it but is there any point in making it compulsory if the content is so poor. If children learn no dates, no consecutive knowledge of events and acquire no understanding of what happened in this or any other country then making that compulsory will not improve matters. Those of us who are not Princeton professors know that, in this case, Michael Gove happens to be right, when he says that
A generation of children knows virtually nothing about British history and leaves school "woefully under-nourished", Education Secretary Michael Gove warned today.Even if they happen to have heard of those particular facts they rarely have an idea of which of them came first as history is taught, if at all, in bits and unrelated pieces. Time, surely, to take the problem seriously. Perhaps, my idea of setting up a school or college that taught only history to all those who are willing to pay should be thought about more seriously.
Even university students studying the subject are failing to recall basic historical facts, he said. Mr Gove said that around half of young people were unaware that Nelson led the British to victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, or that the Romans built Hadrian's Wall.