N.B. The author is Tim Hewish – my Parliamentary Researcher.
As a Historian, I welcome the Education Secretary’s announcement at conference today that History, as a discipline, will be at the core of the curriculum. For too long, Labour had been allowed to reduce the significance of our history, preferring to re-write it or worse simply ignoring it.
That is why I fear for the current crop of young people who have been taught under New Labour. To have a world without historical insight makes for a short-sighted people; since they will often view the world in the here and now, as opposed to critically exploring why certain events in the world are why they are.
A spot check approach to history has led to a misinformed nation. From the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to ideas on Capitalism and Communism, this generation often takes what they hear from one unverified source and apply this as truth. The rigor of History as a discipline needs to brought back and I am glad Mr. Gove is signalling in the right direction:
One of the under-appreciated tragedies of our time has been the sundering of our society from its past.
Children are growing up ignorant of one of the most inspiring stories I know – the history of our United Kingdom.
Our history has moments of pride, and shame, but unless we fully understand the struggles of the past we will not properly value the liberties of the present.
He is also correct in identifying that the current approach we have to history denies children the opportunity to hear Britain’s narrative in a connected way. One only comes to understand history when context is provided, as the world’s events do not occur in isolation.
History is a constantly lived experience; each and every one of us has the opportunity to leave their mark upon history. It doesn’t just occur on the world’s greatest battlefields or from the pens of key treaties. Children need to grasp the fact that something as simple as their own family tree can have a complex and historical significance, which has its own personal story to tell.
As Conservatives, we cannot just merely reclaim education as our own, we have to transform it and that means capturing pupil’s minds. Not through indoctrination like the previous socialist Government, but by opening up the vast and often untapped resource that is our national history.