Regaining collective memory

Good to see a vote of confidence in Michael Gove from historian Simon Schama, in Today’s Telegraph. Schama is aghast at the way the teaching of history has been allowed to fade away in Britain’s state schools.

‘It infuriates him that history is not compulsory in secondary schools after the age of 14. “It’s not just bizarre,” he splutters, “it’s catastrophic. It is a wilful amputation and it absolutely breaks my heart.” He trusts Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, to take matters in hand. “It can’t be too soon. A generation without history is a generation that not only loses a nation’s memory but loses a sense of what it it’s like to be inside a human skin.” ‘

Bang on the money. What’s interesting too is that despite the indifference, even wilful neglect, of the educational and cultural establishments, public interest in British history is huge. Thank God for TV, films, and popular historians like Schama, Andrew Roberts and Niall Ferguson, all of whom have been keeping the flame alive.

Helen Szamuely, who oversees the Conservative history website, has written an excellent essay on the decline in history teaching for the forthcoming NCF publication, A SORRY STATE. It will be be published in late September – there’ll be a launch event, and readers of this blog will certainly be getting an invite.  

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