Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Contested Histories - A Review of Teaching History and the Changing Nation State by Arie Wilschut

Contested histories

Can history be owned by anyone? Jordanova explicitly discusses this question in her History in Practice, pointing at the examples of women’s history, black history and Jewish history. Can only a woman write women’s history, should the director of a Jewish museum always be a Jew? This would imply that the key to a true understanding of the past would be experiencing a shared identity, which in some mysterious way extends beyond the vicissitudes of time. Rightly, Jordanova (2006) repudiates this view, stating that the only dispositions a historian should have are ‘to be humane, accurate, self-aware and judicious’ (p. 144). For the rest, history is publicly owned knowledge open to anyone, regardless of race, sex, creed or ethnicity. The same should apply for the school subject of history: there should be no history which is the exclusive domain of a certain group of people any more than there is anyone’s specific mathematics.

However, the collection of essays edited by Robert Guyver in the volume Teaching History and the Changing Nation State shows a strikingly different reality. If there is one paramount impression after reading them, it is the extent to which history, especially school history, is the plaything of political and ideological forces everywhere in the world, even in the most advanced democratic countries. The creation of national identities by means of forging stories about the past seems a need so urgently felt by politicians, that there can be no escape from it. This may appear obvious in cases of open conflict, such as the Israeli-Palestinian issue or the conflict between Russia and Ukraine – two of the topics which are dealt with in this volume. Sensitive histories, whether recent or not, may also provide understandable reasons why coming to terms with past realities can be a difficult effort, like in the case of the genocide in Rwanda, the apartheid history in South Africa, or even the awareness of ‘an American Holocaust’ (Mottola Poole on page 152 of this volume), meaning the virtual annihilation of the culture and lives of millions of native Americans in the present territory of the United States. But why should there be historical myths or even ‘history wars’ in stable modern democracies such as Australia, New Zealand or the United Kingdom? Why can’t these nations just teach about the experiences of mankind relevant to democratic world citizens today, without exhausting themselves in pointless debates about how their national identities find their origins in unique past events pertaining exclusively to themselves?

The pointlessness of these endeavours is illustrated in a striking way by a passage in the chapter by Guyver himself about the UK describing the descent of present Britons in the analysis of Pocock: ‘simple ethnic categories prove impossible to define where there were normanized Irish and hibernicized Normans, bilingual Anglo-Welsh, monoglot Welsh and English (…), Celts who entered a Norse world and Norsemen assimilated to the Celtic pattern and the expansion of government at the expense of kinship’ (p.161). The ethnic conundrum indicated here suggests that ethnicity or race may be just as futile as national identity, of which we all know by now that it rests mainly on ‘imagined communities’ (Benedict Anderson). Yet, as soon as modern Spain emerged from the Franco dictatorship in the period after 1975 as a democratic state composed of a number of different communities, each of the communities started to construct its own (Catalonian, Basque, Valencian or Galician) past, of course extending as far back as prehistory – so we learn from the chapter about Spain in this volume, written by López Facal and Sáiz Serrano.

This indicates one of the two bottom lines present throughout the papers collected here. First, the histories taught in schools do not reflect what actually happened in the past, but the current political needs felt by the authorities of a country. Second, the chance of any veracity in the accounts presented about past events is greatest in countries where democracies are more developed: history and democracy are mutually dependent upon each other. This is very obvious in the first section of the volume in which the reader is confronted with the contested histories of Israel/Palestine, Russia/Ukraine, Greece/Turkey, South Africa and Rwanda, and Ireland. The situation in Russia, Rwanda, and Palestine is close to totalitarian, Ukraine, Turkey, Greece could be considered as ‘on their way’ towards more historically sound interpretations, while Ireland and South Africa are clearly the most advanced countries in the group represented here. Especially South Africa’s achievement is impressive in this respect and corresponds well with the thoughtful and peaceful process by which it has created a democracy out of the ashes of a defunct apartheid.

Yet, democracies are not exempt of the idiosyncrasies of political pressure. This is clearly visible from the chapters about the UK and Australia. Tony Taylor, the author of one of the Australian papers, even goes as far as comparing the situation during Prime Minister John Howard’s term with Putin’s Russia. Both Putin and Howard strived for a school curriculum capable of enhancing feelings of national pride among students, even if this implied smuggling away certain less favourable elements of the past. The main difference between Australia and Russia is then that in the last case there were no checks and balances, resulting in Putin having his way, while Howard was halted by Australian democratic institutions. How far Putin’s influence reaches is also evident in the other chapter in which Russia figures in a comparison with Ukraine.

Comparing situations in different countries, sometimes within one paper, sometimes between different papers, is one of the hallmarks of this volume. It must be noted, however, that the volume authors and its editor have not always succeeded in getting the maximum out of these comparisons. In some of the chapters, for example the one about Australia and New Zealand (written by the Australian author Tony Taylor and the New Zealand author Mark Sheehan respectively), no effort is made to really compare what is described or even come to joint conclusions. The two ‘bottom lines’ indicated above are not as such present in this book, they are left to the reader to be drawn. The analysis is often lacking as authors are caught up in describing the peculiarities of each national situation, taking the existence of national perspectives more or less for granted. In some cases, authors are clearly partisan and as such less apt to analyse the problems at stake in this volume, for example in the case of the chapter about Israel/Palestine in which the authors clearly choose for the Palestinian side and even come up with one ‘right solution’ to the problem of the historiography of the Middle East conflict at the end of their contribution.

Another suboptimal aspect of the collection is a certain degree of imbalance. The Australian case, for example, is expounded in no less than three of the twelve chapters in such a way that after completing the reading of this book, one is thoroughly aware of the existence of the curious phenomenon of an ‘Anzac legend’, even if one had never heard of it before. It has to do with the renowned raid on Gallipoli during the First World War, a battlefield on which of course Turkey was the adversary at that time. But even though one of the Australian chapters calls for a clear representation of the Turkish point of view on this issue in Australian history teaching, no Turkish author is represented here to clarify how Gallipoli is described in Turkish history books. The Australian (western) perspective is in this respect clearly over-represented. Even if modern Australian history teaching advocates multiperspectivity and demythologization in dealing with Gallipoli and the Anzac legend, the fact that they deal with this topic at all (while other nations in the world have probably never heard of it), is not questioned. Apparently, modern democratic history teaching does not necessarily dispute the self-evidence of the national character of history curricula.

This is the main asset of this collection, which in spite of a few drawbacks offers a fascinating insight into the international situation of history teaching these days: the reader is left with a strong feeling of discomfort by the very fact that so many peculiar national situations are confronted with each other. Each in their own context, they would bear a certain degree of self-evidence. Only after reading them all, the reader is left behind puzzled, asking himself: why do people do these absurd things with stories about the past? Why is there such a bad need for people to comfort themselves with myths and legends which are clearly untrue, but can stimulate feelings of belonging, of identity, or even national pride? Some of the most respected researchers in history education, Barton and Levstik, contend in their Teaching History for the Common Good that democratic nations need historical myths in order to give their citizens a sense of belonging to a state, if only to make them ready to pay their taxes (2004, p. 59). This is a rather cynical view of the duties of the history teacher. But also in the volume reviewed here, national perspectives are omnipresent. Only the Spanish authors (Lópz Facal and Sáiz Serrano) at the end of their contribution come up with the questions that should be asked:

‘- Can we promote a post-national history education that opposes the survival of teaching routines and age-old cultural traditions based on national myths?
- Should history education question the dominant thought that seeks to become the only form of thought through exclusion or rejection of any possible alternatives or different points of view?
- Can this task be carried out from the territorial framework of national states?
- Is world history the alternative to national histories? How can we integrate the local dimension into it?’ (pages 213-214).

It is high time that history educators should start taking these questions seriously.

Arie Wilschut
Professor in Social Studies Education
Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, School of Education

Thursday, 10 March 2016

The first of three identity-related debates involving Michael Gove: the history curriculum 2010-2013

When I read Michael Gove’s 1500 word ‘essay’, Why I’m backing Brexit (published in a Spectator blog and elsewhere on 20 February), I was reminded of a dispute which had started in the very early days of the previous government (i.e. the Coalition) in May 2010, but which really began to fizz from 7 February 2013 – a public debate about identity and attachment which touched on some similar territory, including the nature of the relationship between British citizenship and history education. There was an intense period of discussion which lasted from that February (when the details of the consultation (or draft) document of the new national curriculum had been announced in Parliament) through to July, and of course the most controversial aspect of this consultation would be the history curriculum. What was being proposed was subject to a huge amount of critical scrutiny involving the media, professional associations, historians, teachers and the general public. Perhaps the most far-reaching and articulate critique came from Simon Schama, who although once designated as Michael Gove’s ‘History Tsar’ (a title he disliked), was clearly unhappy with the direction which the draft curriculum seemed to suggest. Maybe he had told the Minister that he would be unavailable from late 2012 through to 2013 because he was busy planning, travelling and recording his ‘Story of the Jews’ which would be televised from September 2013. Indeed in December 2013 he is reported (in the rubric for Start the Week with Andrew Marr) as writing Volume 2 of this. The round-table groups tasked with re-writing the draft history curriculum in their meetings in March and June (2013) and their parallel or subsequent telephone-call or email ‘sub-meetings’ did not include any of the historians who had been prominent in this debate, namely Schama himself, Niall Ferguson, Sir Richard Evans and Sir David Cannadine. Less well known perhaps but undoubtedly equally committed in their work and beliefs were historians Lord (Paul) Bew, Jeremy Black, Jackie Eales, Arthur Burns and Robert Tombs. In fact these five historians were among a total of twenty-three involved directly with the re-drafting (see list of all here). Clearly it was not just a pure history problem and the role of teachers, heritage providers, archivists and history teacher educators was significant. It is to be hoped that the debate about whether or not we leave the EU will be subject to a similar level of critical scrutiny by experts and by the general public.  

Since I retired in August 2011 I have followed this history curriculum debate very closely, and offer here a total of sixteen appendices which are, or refer to, ‘texts’ that made a contribution. I have removed the page numbers and left only the Appendix number headings. The most challenging (but in many ways the most enjoyable) of the texts has been the Simon Schama Hay Festival address of 30 May 2013. I have listened to the podcast and watched the Sky Arts film recording. I apologise if I have mis-heard or mis-transcribed any of what he said, and I am most grateful to Historyworks for the use of their transcript (which however I have departed from in places). 

My most recent piece of writing on this topic is this:
Guyver, R. (2016), ‘England and the UK: Conflict and Consensus over Curriculum’, in R.Guyver (Ed.), Teaching History and the Changing Nation State – Transnational and Intranational Perspectives, pp. 159-174. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

I have also written:
Guyver, R. (2014) ‘Michael Gove’s History Wars 2010–2014: The Rise, Fall and Transformation of a Neoconservative Dream’, Agora [Sungraphô] (Journal of HTAV – History Teachers’ Association of Victoria [Australia], Volume 49, Issue 4, pp. 4-11.

List of Appendices 
Appendix 1 Simon Schama and Teachers: Our Children, Our History (transcript of podcast with notes added by Robert Guyver) Hay Festival 30 May 2013 4.30 p.m.-5.30 p.m.       
Appendix 2 Michael Gove’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference 5 October 2010
Appendix 3 Simon Schama’s statement (5 October 2010) in reaction to his ‘appointment’ by Michael Gove                                                                                                              
Appendix 4 House of Lords debate 20 October 2011 (Hansard transcript and film)        
Appendix 5 Politeia publications related to the history curriculum debate              
Appendix 6 House of Commons, The All Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and History (2013), History for All? Report, together with oral evidence, January.                     
Appendix 7 Michael Gove’s statement in the House of Commons 7 February 2013           
Appendix 8 The draft of national curriculum history (Feb 7 2013)                        
Appendix 9 Joint Statement on the Draft National Curriculum for History 12 Feb 2013
Appendix 10 The full text of the historians’ letter to The Times, Wednesday 27 Feb 2013     
Appendix 11 Other significant articles (from Seumas Milne, Niall Ferguson, (Sir) David Cannadine and (Sir) Richard J. Evans)                                                      
Appendix 12
 The ‘Mr Men’ and Primary History controversy May 2013        
Appendix 13 Reform of the National Curriculum in England Consultation Report of the Consultation (July 2013)(History section)         
Appendix 14 This is the new National Curriculum for History (11 September 2013) Key Stages 1, 2 and 3
Appendix 15 Details of Start the Week with Andrew Marr 30 December 2013        
Appendix 16 – Pre-2013 National Curriculum History                                             

Appendix 1
Simon Schama and Teachers: Our Children, Our History (transcript of podcast with notes added by Robert Guyver) Hay Festival 30 May 2013 4.30pm-5.30pm

This is a transcript from this podcast:
‘Simon Schama and Teachers: Our Children, Our History’, Hay Festival Podcast.  Available online: http://www.hayfestival.com/p-6108-simon-schama-and-teachers.aspx
Sub-titles have been added to this podcast transcript by Robert Guyver1

This was partly broadcast on Sky Arts TV (with some gaps caused by advertising breaks) and another transcript was published by Historyworks (http://historyworks.tv/news/2013/06/04/history_curriculum_debate_updates_new_bbc_r3_night/*). Use of brackets below, thus: ( … ) indicates words actually spoken. Use of brackets, thus [ … ] indicates an editorial addition as an explanation.

Hay Festival Preface to this
Event 286 • Thursday 30 May 2013, 4pm • Venue: Barclays Pavilion
What kind of past is it that Michael Gove’s proposed history curriculum offers to schoolchildren and their teachers? Can it be taught? Should it be taught? And what are the consequences for our national culture and identity? The historian leads the conversation and welcomes contributions from primary and secondary school teachers.

Welcome and introduction – why history matters

My heroes, history teachers! Welcome! I’m just your warm-up act and your enabler today!
There are lots and lots of you. Stand up wherever you are. Actually I’ve always wanted teachers to stand up. [APPLAUSE] Yes, yes everybody else carry on, the rest of you have to do the exam before we let you out of here. The teachers don’t have to do it … [LAUGHTER]

Teachers, I’m one of you actually (in my minor function at Columbia University in New York), and you know that history is a serious matter, never more so than perhaps now. It’s not just a stroll down Memory Lane and it’s not Downton Abbey. It’s [not] Westminster Abbey or Tintern Abbey. It’s not just a kind of romance of bustles and butlers. It counts, it matters, and it affects how we feel about each other as a connected family of memory. It’s very appropriate we’re  having this conversation on the border of England and Wales. I hope some of you will actually talk in a bit, or vent as this is an opportunity for venting – ‘venting’ suddenly sounds like a Welsh word – it probably isn’t – but maybe we’ll turn it into one!

But on the borderland between two different and often conflicting traditions, history matters perhaps now more than ever because we’re at that moment in our country’s history where we’re not quite sure where the borders of our country are and what connects us and what might disconnect us.  We’re at the moment where there’s a kind of fierce political movement inside England, which is all about turning its back on Europe (UKIP).2 We’re at the moment when it’s possible that Scotland might become an independent country once more. Interesting to me that in the checklist3 of Michael Gove’s4 desiderata for things that must be known, the Act of Union5 whereby Scotland (in a kind of shamefully corrupted way) became part of the Union is not actually one of the necessary topics.

We’re also at a time when issues of allegiance are very distressing. We’re faced constantly with the issue of whether or not fanatical religious ideology should overcome and overturn any other bonds of the allegiance of memory and the stories that we share together.

So history is not just a stroll down Memory Lane, as all of you fantastic teachers know. It’s an important thing and it’s something that’s not just simply the antique furniture polish that covers our culture. It will determine for our children whether we do feel connected as a country. It’s got to, bless her, it’s important that the Royal family does what it really does, it’s important that we felt as good as we seemed to have felt last year about the Olympic Games and the Jubilee. There has to be more than that and it has to be a living thing. Our kids have to know and probably all you kids out there do know already why the Magna Carta6 (coming up for its 800th anniversary) made a difference, not just to England but to the world. A difference which turned out to be in some places, but not in others, happily irreversible.

So it is an important issue and so, with this in mind, about two and a half years ago I was weirdly volunteered by Michael Gove, (who in many ways I admire and respect), to be not what was preposterously called History Tsar – I’m not a Tsar – Jews feel very funny about being the Tsar (any of you) if you’re on the receiving end of Tsarishness.7

The national curriculum – problems with past versions

But [I was asked] to say a word or two about how the national curriculum might be looked at once again. I was, along with other people, concerned a bit about what seemed to be the disconnectedness of history teaching in schools, not because the national curriculum, as relatively recently revised and reconstructed8, did not provide for a coherent continuous chronology.  The importance of the aim is announced yet again in the rubric to the most recent suggestions set out in Michael Gove’s document (in February of this year).  Because those of you who are history teachers know that in theory you look at the [present] national curriculum and it does take you through – the Middle Ages, it takes you through the Early Modern European period – and it talks about the relationship of royal power, Parliament and the [indistinct] early Industrial Revolution – but in practice it works out rather differently.

And it wasn’t long before I discovered what really counted and what made it very difficult to actually fulfil or realise the aim of coherent and continuous chronology, (and of infrastructural things that have absolutely nothing to do with the ostensible content or subject guidelines of the national curriculum) – namely, not enough hours of teaching  – not enough specialist educated history teachers – and for my part the unsatisfactory situation by which it is possible to finish an education in history – at the age of fourteen, actually!

There are some huge differences between what independent schools are able to offer by way of number of hours, (amount of classroom time), and what state schools and what, a forteriori, academies could or are prepared to offer – now that’s barely scratched the surface. I hope I have some primary school teachers here that can talk about the particular difficulties they face. With this in mind, there were these hard-core knotty infrastructural problems that got in the way of the old national curriculum delivering on what it had promised.

School visits

I went to sit in classrooms and I went to listen to what teachers had to say. I needed to be educated myself in this – and very quickly I found how brilliantly and heroically many of you actually manage to enrich the lives of the students – while having to deal with these really fierce constraints of time. The issue of the constraints of time [are real] – I know we’re in a difficult period in terms of the job market, economic skills, and in terms of the practical skills that we want our kids to actually acquire. The non-functional subjects are inevitably going to be squeezed a bit. I know also, because look at all of you here, that many of you are passionate about giving our kids a sense of the kind of country or countries to which they belong. As I say, I was really incredibly impressed (pretty much) when I went to sit down with kids.

I went to a docklands primary school for example, where a very limited number of the children had parents for whom English was a first language and yet these very little kids were doing a unit about Queen Victoria and Queen Victoria’s childhood and the process by which she became Queen. It was entrancing and they were completely into it and that was rather wonderful.

I went to the Grey Coat Hospital School in Westminster9, a school of mixed cultures again, and there, even though there wasn’t a particularly deliberately specified module set out, the history teacher there taught a wonderful unit (early Key Stage 3) on what the experience of London was like where we were sitting. It wasn’t just an academic [lesson] with a big A or a small a, it was really about the fate of London in the years between 1665 and 1667, that incredible trifecta of catastrophe that occurred in the country from the Great Plague, through the Fire, and to the Dutch invasion of 1667, and they were engaged not just by the accounts of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn but with maps of London, trying to imagine what would happen when you began with a pandemic. So the very clever teacher was thinking about the difficulties of SARS or influenza epidemics and what that would be like in a culture and a time long ago with very limited public health facilities and no aspirins and no proper pharmaceuticals.

They were both effortlessly wiring together the experience of a long time ago with how the kids might actually internalise it in their own contemporary lives. This was not a dumbing down, it was not a vulgarisation of a knotty historical question. Buried in there the teacher was doing exactly what great history teachers do, namely telling a story that generates questions. That is what history is, it’s storytelling that generates an analytical sensibility – and serious, deep, profound, questions!

I went to Cottenham Village School [actually named College] in Cambridge10 and there was the Hitler bit, and it was a good hour on the Reichstag Fire11 – and I was one of the people who thought ‘enough of the Third Reich already’ – I always remember that Alan Coren, the Punch humorist, had to collect (we all do this) a volume of his essays and he was told that Punch humour might or might not sell. [He was also told that] the three categories of books that always sold were animal books, books about golf, and the third one were any books about the Third Reich. So he called his book Golfing for Cats and on the front cover there was nothing but an enormous swastika.

So I went into the swastika classroom and these kids were absolutely brilliant. There was a good whiteboard presentation but they knew what the architecture of the Reichstag looked like before it was burnt, they knew about the kind of shifty relationship between the ultra-nationalists of the right and completely way-out Nazis. There was nothing really that I would [not] have asked of my own undergraduates at university that they were not engaging with! I thought this was extraordinary and that it still might be possible, given changing the infrastructural constraints, to actually make something of the curriculum we have.

A critical evaluation of Michael Gove’s February 7th (2013) draft national curriculum
However, I was sympathetic and still am sympathetic to an attempt to give a kind of over-arching chronological story, as Michael Gove wants, from the beginning to the end, but then this document appeared before us all in February of this year! Now I’m sure Michael Gove did not actually want to give us 1066 and All That 12 without the jokes, but that is pretty much what we’ve got, I think!

What is extraordinary, and history teachers I’m sure you’ve looked at this since you might live in trembling fear and trepidation of having to teach a nine year old the Heptarchy13, you know you want to say to Michael Gove, I want to say to him now, ‘Michael, let’s you and I go into a class of nine year olds and do the Kingdom of Mercia with them shall we? How are you proposing to do that?’ I would love also to bring Michael into a classroom and to do the entirety of causes, [of] not just the English but causes of the English, Scottish and Irish Civil Wars in something like forty-five minutes. If you actually take the number of statutory, non-negotiable, indispensable items on the document that we now have, the sine qua non [as set out Gove’s draft national history curriculum] and that all my friends out there are going to have to teach, that’s what it comes down to!  Whoosh, there was Disraeli! Whoosh, there was Gladstone! All whipping past one. All you can do … if it was the Crimean War or the French Revolution, if it’s lucky, may get a drive-by ten minutes! It’s a sort of Gradgrindian14 philosophy of historical pedagogy!

All you can do, is put salient facts up on the board, have the kids remember them – and see if they remember them – or have forgotten them next week – or the week after. There is no possibility of telling the story to generate questions even though question asking is actually specified in a rather eloquent and sympathetic way in part of the rubric to the new syllabus. It may have been a little bit much for the New Statesman to say this is not a curriculum and that it is more like a pub quiz, but they were on to something!15

And also, and if you look, how much faith can you put in a document which seemed to believe that Adam Smith was English? Truly astonishing that he’s in a list of figures who are said to be part of the English Enlightenment – you know, don’t tell that to Alex Salmond!16 The list of subjects seems to be essentially memories of A Level work circa 1965, [indistinct] or something pre-1950, embalmed in an aspic, and then sprinkled over the aspic is a garnishing of tokenism. Mary Seacole is there for example but not Mary Wollstonecraft.17 You wouldn’t know that British history is also about people other than white males, mostly except that there was some little tokenism of the wrong kind here and there. It’s absolutely the wrong kind in my view … But mostly, as I say, it makes it completely impossible – the engagement of the kids, particularly in Key Stage 3, with the issue of asking hard questions, of having questions generated out of the narrative which you’re providing.

Clive of India
If you take one example that I thought to me screamed of a kind of (I don’t want to say insulting – yes, I do …) insulting, a sort of offensive, imperviousness to what it takes to wire together the past to the gloriously but challengingly changed character of Britain. It was three words in one item on this new national curriculum and these three words were ‘Clive of India’.18

Now, think of what Britain is like now. This is not tokenism, it’s very important – and not just for those who are from an Asian origin, but for all of us to know what the relationship between our eighteenth century England (Scotland was very much part of this and Ireland too) and [what] the fate of the Indian subcontinent was. Couldn’t Michael Gove (or whoever was talking to him) put himself in the position of a small boy in Bradford or Southall – or somewhere like that – saying ‘Dad, what are we doing here?’ [This could apply] for different cultures too, for a Jewish, Afro-Caribbean culture. How did this happen to be? How did we come to be British?

And believe you me, the answer is not ‘Clive’ ‘of’ ‘India’! ([Aside] Why it could be Derek and Clive19 and Clive of India! [More laughter]). The reason it isn’t Clive of India is because Clive of India, along with Wolfe and Quebec, was also embalmed in those foxed pages of ancient imperial histories in our island and empire stories of the 1950s and 1960s.20 Robert Clive was a sociopathic, corrupt thug, whose business in India was essentially to enrich himself, his co-soldiers and traders as quickly and as outrageously as possible. He makes the chief executives of our more dodgy banks, [for example] Fred Goodwin, look like a combination of Mary Poppins and Jesus Christ by comparison.

It’s not the squalor of Robert Clive … maybe that was Michael’s idea: that you actually have an example of someone for whom criminal squalor was the point of the exercise! The issue I take with Robert Clive is his ultimate insignificance. There is a huge story behind Clive of India, namely how did the British come to be in India in the first place – and how did a trading company, the East India Company, come to be a government of pretty much an entire subcontinent of a hundred million people? That is an extraordinary story and that is one of the great stories of how we came to be the Britain we are, and how we were the Britain that we were in the period of the Durbars in the high nineteenth century.

And to answer that question – you certainly need more than the kind of forty minute drive-by you’ll get if you abide by the national curriculum guidelines. You need to ask one much bigger question than knowing all you can know about Clive of India: what was eighteenth century India like? What was wrong with the Mughal Empire, what was the Maratha Confederacy21 and why was it incapable of resisting the intrusion of the British? But more particularly, and this is not to make a kind of cheaply anti-imperial point, is neither to congratulate nor to deplore the experience under the British Empire, it is to understand its causal reality.

The crucial thing is what was that shift by which a failed trading company, the East India Company, discovered it could make more money by putting itself in charge of the government of Bengal, and then of Madras, and then of Bombay and then of an enormous expanse of the subcontinent? How was it that the business of government came to supplant the business of business? That is the story! Now, to do that, you need to know real Indian history (not in impossible detail) with the help of myriad online sources, with the help of maps, diaries and all the things you’re using. But it does presuppose that you are interested, as the rubric of the national curriculum says we all ought to be (and bravo to it), in the history of other people than ourselves.

Which brings me at length to a sort of sense of a conversation we might have in a minute, about why history is important for children and what we want to give our kids.

The glory of history in the western tradition – Herodotus and Thucydides
The glory of history in the western tradition, about which we need not be apologetic for a minute, goes back to its founding fathers, to Herodotus22 and Thucydides.23 It really does in my view [go back to the founding fathers] because history in the end, for those of us who have been lucky enough to practise it, write it and read it, it does certain things. In the first place the word itself in Greek, ‘historia’, is simultaneously a narrative and it is a matter of enquiry. I’m told by classical scholars more learned than I, that it meant the two things indistinguishably, and it occurs in the first line of Herodotus’ great history. So it is storytelling from which question asking is necessarily inseparable.

Secondly, it is about the history of other people – people disconnected from us in time and space and sometimes in culture too. One of the most remarkable things about Herodotus’ history is that he is so fascinated with the Persians, with the enemy, as well as the remains of the Syrian and Babylonian culture and the Egyptians. It’s the first real attempt at an Egyptian ethnography and it’s not coincidental because Herodotus was not from Athens, he was an Ionian – he was a kind of inveterate traveller.

I always think of him as one of those people you come across in a carriage in a train (going, say to Newcastle) and he will not shut up!  Then you realise – after having been irritated – how grateful you are the Herodotus figure will not shut up – telling you where he’s been in his life and times. That is the glory of chatty, pluralistic, open-mindedness about the enemy and about people who are not like us.

Thucydides is, of course, the flintier figure altogether. To Thucydides we owe the more aggressively analytical, philosophically-embedded sense – that history will tell us what the human condition is – and it will tell us about the uses and the abuses of power. It too will tell stories – but they sometimes need to be chastening stories. Thucydides was a general, he was a sacked general who had fought on the northern theatre of the Peloponnesian War – and looked upon the history of what became the Athenian Empire when it committed the act of hubris, which was the campaign to Sicily – with horror.

Summary – how these two Greeks might feed into a national curriculum model
The narrative arc is meant to culminate in those great debates about whether or not to go to Syracuse. The great confrontation between the young, feckless, glamorous adventurer Alcibiades and the wise old Lysias, who nonetheless is prepared to follow orders, even though he knows it’s going to lead to catastrophe. And for Thucydides history is not about self-congratulation and it’s not really about tracing the pedigree of the wonderfulness of us,24 nor is it about tracing the pedigree of the reprehensibly awful nature of us either. It is a chastening, disenchanted, honest, tough-minded, gadfly-stinging version of looking critically at ourselves and seeing what we have become and where we came from. Historians, for Thucydides, are meant to keep the powerful awake at night, meant to keep them honest.

I come from a culture where I teach in America25 where there is a lot of tremendous history being written and being taught!  But, if anything, it suffers slightly from a sense of insular self-congratulation. And, if we take our two Greek founding fathers together, our Greek patriarchs together, and you take Herodotus’ aversion to the insularity of history and his attempt to say, to embrace that we cannot understand what makes us Greeks and what makes us come together as a particular cultural force in the world unless we understand Persia and Egypt and Asia Minor, and so on. And then you take Thucydides’ aversion to history as a chronology of national self-congratulation, you have the glory and honour of western history. That’s really what we need to instil. Those are the things in my view that ought to animate a construction of a national curriculum, which means that … it’s not impossible to aim … Some of you teachers may not feel the same way – and feel we have enough time to teach history, that it’s just the way that the national curriculum is set out now that it is so misguided that we can’t do it.

Although – it seems to me – that it is not impossible to do this coherent chronology. It needs to be somewhere between the national curriculum as was, (in other words these only slightly arbitrarily connected modules), and this [Gove’s] both pedantic and utopian scheme of knowing the names of the main Chartists or something!   It does need to have nodes (I don’t want to call them modules), it wants to have concentrations of questions. It needs to be somewhere in-between.

Continuing the curriculum critique: Religion, Puritanism and (later) the social and moral conscience of the tribunes of Victorian England
Here’s one, for example. It was absolutely astonishing to me, astonishing to me, in this national curriculum is something that was incredibly important to British culture – and I mean Scottish, Irish and Welsh as well as English culture, namely everyone – religion … is missing! Religion and its relation to secular power. What you look at – I mean it says Henry II and Becket, but of course the absolutely crucial issue lying behind that very dense knotty and all important issue of medieval history, which we’re supposed to teach to our ten year olds or earlier, is the relationship between the Papacy and the Angevin, later Plantagenet, sense of their own independent sovereignty. Why would our children not understand the importance of a debate between allegiances to God or to the King? Should they clash? To God in the figure of the Pope or to the King? I think that is something pretty much all our kids, I would have thought, would be able to get to grips with.

The word ‘Puritanism’, staggeringly, does not appear in the national curriculum list of must know-abouts. Whereas it’s inconceivable that you’d be able to understand how we came to chop Charles I’s head off, how Cromwell came to be Cromwell, if you don’t actually know what Puritanism is, the substance and content of Puritanism! There’s not a word on something called the Union of Crowns26 or how the King James Bible came to be conceived of as an act that would bind the different Christian communities of the country together.

So, you know, I think there are concentrated areas where these big questions might be asked. The relationship, for example, between industrial energy in the nineteenth century and an extraordinary presence of what we might call the social and moral conscience of the tribunes of Victorian England.27 It is rather amazing that the great and immense read figures of Victorian Britain are those who are most hostile to the ethos of material accumulation, namely Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens and John Ruskin – and in a sense they’re the tip-top three. I can think of all sorts of other people too, such as Pugin,  and so on, not to mention that our Manchester manufacturer, Friedrich Engels, and the importance of the 1844 report The Condition of the Working Class in England, don’t feature on the list.28 You can’t not only understand the nature of the Victorian conscience but you can’t understand where the Labour party and trade unionism will eventually come from unless you understand how electrifying, dramatic and powerful the social conscience was in Victorian England. It’s something to be proud of, to celebrate – and something for the kids to engage with when they think about, you know, our own condition now – and the relationship of the public conscience to private cupidity – and the rip-roaring nature of the economic system.

The issue I want to hear from you about is – should you as teachers just really fling this back in the teeth of the Department for Education as full of impossibilities and absurdities, or should we work with it?  Are there things in the national curriculum with which you’re working now – that are just fine – or should that be abandoned altogether? What is it you want and how do you feel?

Parents too, you’re necessarily part of this debate!  Tell me, what’s on your mind? I want to now go to as many questions as possible…

Simon Schama If you are teachers I’d love to know where you are teaching and at what school.
Questioner 1 I’m a history teacher in a secondary school in Surrey but I’m not actually allowed to give the name of it because I’ve been campaigning against [Gove’s proposed] curriculum for the last three months [APPLAUSE] My school doesn’t want to be associated with the campaign.
Simon Schama Can you tell me your first name?
Questioner 1  Catherine.
Simon Schama  Hey Catherine! Is your school frightened or nervous? Is it embarrassed by you?
Questioner 1 My school has a policy of political neutrality, which I find kind of ironic because I think political neutrality in a curriculum in history should be aspiring to. I think this curriculum raises some extremely important concerns for our democracy. There must be something very worrying about a government that wants to replace critical thought, critical engagement with source material (which is taught by the current approach) with rote learning. Democracies need citizens that can hold them to account and I think the current way we teach history in schools, though not perfect, trains citizens very well for this.
Simon Schama Can you give me an example of a particular lesson you teach where you said – ‘wow, I’m doing my job here’?
Questioner 1 I actually teach Key Stage 4 and A Level. I think that what really invigorates them and makes them love history is debate. I think that being force-fed political propaganda and a nationalist narrative is going to switch them off. They’ll feel bored and manipulated.
Simon Schama Can I interrupt you for a second and say that if you look at this rather ridiculous shopping list: Cromwell, the Chartists, the Suffragettes are there (although Mary Wollstonecraft is not there) – it’s impossible to do the rote learning and get through it all and have exactly the exhilarating debates that you’re talking about. But it provides for politics and social options of all kinds.  Is that your worry? A sense of misguided … and you sense that there is a sealing wax of Britishness …
Questioner 1 Behind it is, in the Education Secretary’s words, ‘the desire to celebrate the distinguished role of these islands in the history of the world’. I think if you approach history from a partisan position like that, it is very hard to ask difficult questions and have a proper debate. It also marginalises women and non-white ethnic groups and many other ordinary people. It completely sidelines social and economic history and all the rich diversity as it has developed in the universities over the past few decades. It reverts back to a very archaic political style of history teaching and even archaic use of language, such as the Glorious Revolution. [APPLAUSE]
Simon Schama  Yes, I’m essentially on your side and I don’t want to over-egg this, but it doesn’t actually say ‘celebrate’, what it says is ‘to ensure that all pupils know and understand the story of these islands, how the British people shaped this nation and how Britain influenced the world’. It doesn’t say ‘celebrate’, but what is incredibly wrong with that sentence is ‘how the British people shaped this nation and how Britain influenced the world’ and not vice versa, how the world influenced and shaped Britain. That’s a bigger giveaway than thinking Adam Smith is English actually. Look at it carefully.
Questioner 1 I wasn’t quoting the curriculum document itself, I was quoting the Education Secretary who said those words and the Prime Minister has described it as ‘our island story in all its glory’. I’m using this as an indication of where they’re coming from rather than quoting the document itself.
Simon Schama  But it doesn’t prevent you Catherine and others – I mean the Slave Trade is always there and it’s right that it should be thought of as a structurally appalling element in the way Britain modernised. So in this long kind of shopping list there are all sorts of opportunities to think as you say – critically – about how Britain became powerful.
Questioner 1 To think critically about history, you need time!
Simon Schama Ah bravo! AND HOW! This is a document written by people who have never sat and taught twelve year olds in a classroom. And none of you should sign onto it until we trap Michael Gove in that very classroom and say, ‘Right, get on with it. Give me the Civil War in the next forty five minutes!’ [APPLAUSE] Yes, this gentleman there.
Questioner 2 I teach at Newcastle funnily enough (but I don’t think I’ve ever talked to you on a train) and I do agree with you and I do think history teachers are the anarchists in the classroom. Whatever they set up we will put it back as it should be. That’s what I would say, so I think it will always be that we will have to do the tests, run through the chronological gallop for a bit, then we’ll get into the debates in the areas that are meaty. Each teacher will do that separately and I will probably want to celebrate some of the glories of our past…
Simon Schama  Sure, Magna Carta is worth celebrating. What’s your name?
Questioner 2 John.
Simon Schama I’ll be after you. Promise me, you’re going to continue to be an anarchist in that case? The issue is, – whether this enormous whale bone structure that is set out in this sort of unthought-through list of topics makes it incredibly difficult to do that? There’s no sense of how this would be tested. You know, you know, two words I hate that actually really make me feel physically sick are ‘key developments’, you know really … but particularly when ‘key developments’, which don’t belong in the great tradition of historical storytelling … actually the words ‘key developments’ are attached to King Athelstan – actually I’ll give a magnum of fabulous burgundy to anyone who can stand up here now and tell me the ‘key developments’ in the reign of Athelstan, it’s stupid really, and King Canute and I don’t want to hear the word ‘waves’ in this either! There are no ‘key developments’! So the issue is about whether or not this sense of testable competence in history will enable you and Catherine to actually give kids a sense that these very important events happened but they were understood and written about in different ways. And if you ask a Puritan Member of Parliament about royalist absolutism … So that they can actually feel that disputes about the historical truth – are NOT the same thing as saying these things don’t happen – it’s NOT the same thing as chaos and confusion, let alone relativism! You feel you could live with any version of the document that appeared?
Questioner 2 Having taught since 1980 and having subverted right back to Thatcher I think I could pretty much teach proper history to…
Simon Schama  But doesn’t the national curriculum – as it is – give you bigger space to do that?
Questioner 2 It does – but I think what will happen is you can tick boxes – we do that for head teachers, we do it for all kinds of people and they don’t really know what we’re doing either! [APPLAUSE]
Simon Schama  I must ask you if my adorable and horrible [indistinct – horribly?] reactionary friend Professor Niall Ferguson29 was here with me, he’d say ‘they don’t know who John Hampden is’, and David Starkey would say, ‘they have no idea, they mix up Oliver Cromwell with Thomas Cromwell’. Does this have a sense of a leaping over, because of the module- friendly nature of the curriculum and the vast areas of British history – and indeed world history – that are not taught at all?  Does this give any of you teachers pause? Don’t you want a way in which you can join the dots up without having to join them as relentlessly as the curriculum document now suggests? Or are none of you bothered by that? It does seem extraordinary to me that it’s quite difficult to, you know, at the moment. One thing that I did not hear very much from schools, is the eighteenth century. The eighteenth century is the furnace really, in which modern Britain is formed. Whether it’s an imperial power or whether it’s an industrial power, it is the moment where Britain became Britain. Is this not a concern for you?
Questioner 3 Nikki. I’m a teacher in inner city Coventry and there’s 56 different languages in my school.
Simon Schama  Wow, 56! What’s the least likely one that’s going to surprise me?
Questioner 3 As a first language? The least likely would be English. [What I want to say is] I think that you’re perhaps underestimating the professionalism of history teachers. We do not jump great swathes of time, as Mr Gove maybe does more than ever. We have to cut bits obviously at one hour a week at Key Stage 3. We have to teach to the exam board for GCSE and A Level , but we are professionals and we are passionate about our subject!  And we do not suddenly give modules and make no links between them! My last lesson that I taught before half term last week was the triangular [Atlantic] trade – the slave trade, and there I was with my wonderful PowerPoint all prepared, to have two Ghanaian girls in year 8 tell me how to pronounce their names which I cannot do properly, the history of the slave trade in Ghana, which they will continue with after half term because they are preparing a lesson. Where will I have time for that in the new curriculum? Where will I be able to engage with them? That is the worry!
Simon Schama  I’m thrilled to hear that. That was my experience at Grey Coats [Grey Coat Hospital C of E Comprehensive School for Girls in Westminster] when they did a wonderful thing on the 1666 Fire of London, and the consequences. I’m thrilled to hear that, and bravo to you for doing that!  But it sort of reinforces my point again that when you have this relentless emphasis on moving onto the next thing (so as you get the names and dates right), it’s going to undercut the possibility of making the connection between who they are and where they have come from.
Questioner 3 As my colleague over there said, we do that. That’s what we do and all we have to do is circumvent Gove and his national curriculum to do it. That’s fine, we’ll continue doing it.
Simon Schama So you’re not worried about anything?
Questioner 3 Only that when OFSTED come in we have to tick the boxes, but until they come in we can go ahead and teach history properly. Then when OFSTED come in we’ll do it the other way. [APPLAUSE]
Simon Schama  Yes, lady there?
Questioner 4 Hello, I’m Ellie and I’m a parent. From a parent’s point of view, my children love history! But where the time constraints of classroom are made up for – when they are watching Horrible Histories, which they adore! To help them understand history I think that helps – whereas teachers just don’t have the time to cover everything in the curriculum – so it is left to parents to help their children to take it that little bit further.
Simon Schama  Well bless you, how old are your kids?
Questioner 4 My son has just started Key Stage 3 so he’s twelve and my daughter is nine.
Simon Schama Parents, you are teachers too! I do say that history is a serious matter!  For I was born in 1945, and my dad was passionate about history, starting with Shakespeare and the Bible, but then my dad would sort of walk me round the kind of ruins of London that were damaged in the Blitz, and not just the bits that survived, because London was full of soot-covered ruins that stuck out like stumps of blackened teeth, and he would know really where the mediaeval city was, and where the post-Fire of London city was. It was completely magical to me, and it was important in those grim and tough and bleak years, really to understand there is a glory to British history – but the glory to British history is argument, dissent, the freedom of dispute. It’s not an endless, as I say, a massage of self-congratulation (pro-empire against empire). That’s what’s the glory, it’s the division, and the celebration of division, that is at the heart of the story, beginning with Magna Carta!  But you parents should use anything, museums, exhibitions, the web, absolutely anything you can get. The web is an incredible resource now, but there’s nothing that is better than the passion of parents themselves for [communicating the importance of the past]. It is like taking them to an attic and opening up a suitcase of your great-grandmother’s belongings from wherever they came from. The attic of the memory is the gift we give our children and we hope our children will give to their children in due course as well. How many more minutes have I got?
Questioner 5 Hello my name is Wendy. I only do supply teaching now.
Simon Schama  Were you a full-time teacher?
Questioner 5  I was a full-time teacher in Birmingham and I taught English as a second language there. So anyway, I was teaching in this comprehensive in Staffordshire in a mining village, and we had a head of history who was a Sikh and there on his blackboard was ‘Clive the Invader’. Would you approve of this aspect of teaching English history?
Simon Schama  No I wouldn’t. No, I wouldn’t have him there as invader either – I wouldn’t have Clive there at all to be honest. The sort of dumbly partisan hostile is as bad as the unthinkingly self-congratulation. As I said, the real question of how the British came to rule India is what happened to the Mughal Empire, what actually happened, what was India like before the British, and how could the suddenness of this thing happen? And as a matter of fact, there are all sorts of extraordinarily interesting highways and byways. For example, the figure who is not actually in Michael Gove’s precious list is Warren Hastings30 who is much more important and interesting. That is because Hastings is really interested in the East India Company supporting the religious education of Hindus and Muslims, and for example the generation which follows, Sir William Jones,31 and those slightly unfairly demonised (by my old friend Edward Said), as orientalists.32 You know the British are responsible. There is a great debate which comes over both primary and secondary Indian education in which the young Macaulay33 takes part in the 1820s and 1830s, when the charter of the East India Company comes round for renewal, it actually sounds very, very boring, but it’s actually very profound because the issue was, are we, the British, here in India to restore, revive and reinvigorate Indian institutions?  Or is that condescending and patronising?  Should we be here really, essentially, either to make money?  Or, if we can’t make money, should we leave?  Or, the third option was, should we be Anglicising India? That’s a profound debate that takes place both in India and in Britain too. If you think about it, a debate like that cuts to the quick of our own questions about what our culture is like now. Those are the great questions which I’m convinced are more important than Clive the Invader.
Questioner 5  I’m a school governor and I’ve engaged in quite a battle royal with our head over the teaching of history in our school which I don’t find satisfactory.
Simon Schama Tell him to call me, I’ll sort him out! Again, he doesn’t see the importance of it at all?
Questioner 5 Not at all.
Simon Schama Really, I’m sorry to hear it!
Questioner 6 My name is Jonathan. I’m not a history teacher, I run a design agency in London, but I’m an employer, and I have serious fears with Mr Gove’s plans. He’s dropped art and design from the core skills and [I see] the dilution of history as another way of denying our country and our future of thinkers, detectives and deductors. In design you look at all the factors and it leads you to the brief and then you come to a resolution. When I enjoyed studying history at O Level and A Level we were encouraged to come to our own conclusions, looking at the facts and the primary evidence. I think this country has been built on a history of innovation and of being creators and inventors. If we lose that ability in whatever profession, because very few people go on to be historians but they use those skills in an engineering or a scientific capacity. Without the ability to ask, ‘what if’, and then test that, we lose that. [APPLAUSE]
Simon Schama Wow Jonathan. That’s not really a question, it’s a speech, but that’s the first time I’ve heard the ability to think critically, to sort of internalise and embrace past experience and to stand back from it and see it afresh, and you’re absolutely right, it’s at the heart of new ideas in theatre or whether you look at them in fashion or wherever. I couldn’t agree more with you! It’s a wonderful connection you’ve made! Fashion is about …
Questioner 6 There’s a fetishisation of science at the moment but if you have a scientist without imagination you will never have discovery. A scientist will ask, ‘what if’, and then he has the skills to test that theory, but if he doesn’t have the inquisitiveness to come up with the theory in the first place, then he’s just a drone.
Simon Schama  Yes OK, thank you for that.
Questioner 6 I just wanted to give you a slightly different perspective.
Questioner 7 I’m a teacher in Sheffield at the moment, I’ve taught in lots of different places, but I teach English language and literature. I was looking at the history curriculum because the teaching of history isn’t just a matter for history teachers, which I’m sure we all agree on here. We all own history, whether it’s English history or Jamaican history – it’s where I’m from. I see myself as an international citizen so the histories of all people is of interest to me and all history is connected. Now the issue I want to raise is, it’s not so much … the saving grace of this whole debate is that the truth is not necessarily going to be determined by what history teachers teach in classrooms, because I was taught history with an extreme dissonance between what I was taught in classrooms and my owned lived experience, the stories I got from my parents, the things I read in novels. There is so much history in novels. Michael Gove doesn’t have control over those stories and no government will ever have control over those people and over their stories and the ways they can be told independently of how they’re taught in classrooms. For me that is at the heart of the question, because what the problem with history was for me when I was being taught it, was the sense that I was being lied to. So, the issue for us is, do we want a history curriculum that leaves our young people (with whatever heritage they have), feeling like they’re being lied to? If you come from a working class white background or from a Jamaican heritage background, or wherever, if history isn’t truly about questions, about social history as well as the history of kings and queens, some section of the population that is being taught will feel excluded.
Simon Schama  I take your point but I think that is an issue for any kind of curriculum, whether it is this one or the other one. The long list may seem a bit too white and male and imperial but actually there’s all sorts of things in this list that enable the ‘right’ version to get out. The issue is really whether or not there’s enough time, passion and engagement. We had that wonderful intervention over there which says that history teachers are true professionals and they will get around whatever the robotic machinery the curriculum gives them in order to do that. The main thing is to actually have the space to be able to have a rapt audience amongst our children and students for the stories that beg and demand the questions. That’s what we want!

Historyworks did not include this last piece of the Schama talk (which was included in the Sky Arts HD television broadcast on Wednesday 5th June at 7 pm and in the Hay Festival podcast):
I’ve got to stop in a second, but forgive me at the front here [person waiting to ask a question].
You’ve been a good class. I want to, and I may be going over … I’m going to give you a reward.  Here’s a story by somebody we think of as an absolutely back-number, Macaulay – you know – a bigger back-number there couldn’t be … and yet Macaulay does a wonderful thing – in Volume 4 I think of the History of England,34 because actually he’s going to signify an enormous sea-change in British life that will happen with the revolution against the kind of Catholic absolutism of James II. And it has to begin with a human moment. Now all of you great history teachers begin with human moments of story. And here’s one I love – and I love it because of one verb.
The death of King Charles the Second took the nation by surprise. His frame was naturally strong, and did not appear to have suffered from excess.
This wonderful, kind of feckless old playboy is collapsing suddenly.
He had always been mindful of his health even in his pleasures; and his habits were such as promise a long life and a robust old age. Indolent as he was on all occasions which required tension of the mind, he was active and persevering in bodily exercise. He had, when young, been renowned as a tennis player, and was, even in the decline of life, an indefatigable walker. His ordinary pace was such that those who were admitted to the honour of his society …
[heavy irony on Macaulay’s part]
… found it difficult to keep up with him. He rose early, and generally passed three or four hours a day in the open air. He might be seen, before the dew was off the grass in St. James’s Park, striding among the trees, playing with his spaniels, and flinging corn to his ducks; and these exhibitions endeared him to the common people, who always like to see the great unbend.
And the genius verb there is ‘flinging’. The image of the feckless king who is about to kind of go down to a kind of black-faced stroke, enveloping the country and the destiny of the country in revolution and disaster, of the chucking of the corn to the king’s own ducks.
And, before I decline and disintegrate in front of you … my kind, dear audience … my hero history teachers, I thank you for coming. (Much applause)

*This text is in the Historyworks website: Historyworks is a Limited Company, and the Co-Directors are Helen Weinstein and Jon Calver. Our team is based in York and Cambridge and Oxford and Richmond and Bloomsbury. Historyworks has liability insurance to cover our production work on your property. Helen Weinstein may be contacted on historyworks@gmail.com regarding the commissioning and of costing projects; and Jon Calver may be contacted on enquiries@historyworks.tv for submitting funding application letters of support and is the Director who deals with  invoices for training and also invoices for media products.

1. Historyworks added this below the title to their transcribed version of this piece: ‘Please note that Simon Schama was speaking in a huge rush of energy and dynamism, so when you read the text below you’ll have to imagine Simon pacing about and interacting with the audience, without a lot of punctuation, and sometimes small segues that are not well conveyed in a transcript, when they make total sense when spoken as parenthesis!  Please do use this transcription for discussions and quotations, especially #historyteacher, and #histed, and all that is asked is that you acknowledge that this website content is creative commons rather than copyright, so you credit @historyworkstv’. The sub-titles, Appendix and notes (above and below) have been added by Robert Guyver guyverrobert@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in these notes are Robert Guyver’s and not those of Historyworks.
2. UK Independence Party. Nigel Farrage’s UKIP won 150 seats in the May 3 Council Elections (2013). However in the 2015 General Election UKIP only won 1 seat despite getting 12.6% of the UK vote.
3. See Appendix 7 after this transcript
4. Rt. Hon. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education from May 2010 (to July 2014).
5. Act of Union:  two Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland
6. Magna Carta, 1215. See http://www.bl.uk/treasures/magnacarta/ for translation and comment.  Simon Schama in his A History of Britain – At the Edge of the World? 3000 BC – AD 1603 (pp. 162-164) explains the significance of Magna Carta. ‘So, if Magna Carta was not the birth certificate of freedom it was the death of despotism. It spelled out for the first time, and unequivocally, something which the Angevins themselves, as the highest justices of the realm, could not conceivably quarrel: that the law was not simply the will or the whim of the king but was an independent power in its own right, and that kings could be brought to book for violating it – and they should, for example, show due cause why a person’s body might be confined (habeas corpus) and  not just declared to be detained at the inscrutable pleasure of the prince. All this, in turn, presupposed something hitherto unimaginable: that there was some sort of English ‘state’ of which the king was a part (albeit the supreme part) but not the whole. And it was, in the name of that state, that the barons added something startling to the charter: a proposal that a body of twenty-five of them would be instituted to monitor compliance with the charter and, if necessary, to act as collective ombudsmen, hearing cases in which Crown officials were themselves accused of infringing the charter.’
7. Michael Gove announced this at the Conservative Party Conference on October 5th 2010. See report of his speech: http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2010/10/Michael_Gove_All_pupils_will_learn_our_island_story.aspx. Mr Gove did not refer to Simon Schama as ‘History Tsar’ in his speech, but the term was used in the press the following day.
8. See http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum/secondary/b00199545/history for Key Stage 3 (revised for implementation from Sept 2008;) and Key Stage 1 and 2 last revised for implementation from Sept 2000: http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum/primary/b00199012/history
10. http://cvcweb.net/the-college/ See also Ofsted ‘Good practice resource – Ensuring rigorous historical thinking: Cottenham Village College’ (30 May 2012, ref: 120139) http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/good-practice-resource-ensuring-rigorous-historical-thinking-cottenham-village-college:  ‘Incisive teaching and comprehensive planning, combined with a highly engaging history curriculum, ensure that students develop perceptive and sophisticated thinking. Among other things, students explore the views of historians and this aids not only their knowledge and understanding but also the way in which they think about the issues they study.’ The school has worked closely with the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education (and particularly with Christine Counsell). This is a quote from the Ofsted report: ‘A key component of the success of teaching is the commitment to regular and sustained subject-specific continuing professional development of all history teachers. There is a recognition and belief in the centrality of ongoing professional development to sharpen practice. As a result, all teachers are engaged with the subject community through, among other things, mentoring trainees on the University of Cambridge PGCE history course, acting as an AST [Advanced Skills Teacher] in history across a range of secondary schools in the local authority, editing Teaching History [Michael Fordham], the Historical Association’s journal for history teachers in secondary schools, and presenting workshops at the Schools’ History Project annual conference. This work not only engages teachers with the subject community but also contributes to the collective expertise of that community. However, as Matt Stanford, a member of the history team, points out: “We need to know the latest research so that what we have to say is right up to date”’. Indeed Cottenham Village College was well represented at the Historical Association annual conference (York, May 2013) where both Michael Fordham – Head of History, and Geraint Brown – Advanced Skills Teacher, led a secondary session on, ‘Rigorous history and OFSTED success: happy bedfellows’.
11. This event happened 27 February 1933 (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERreichstagF.htm), Hitler’s Nazi Party having come to power on 18 February.  See also R.J.Evans (2003) The Coming of the Third Reich, pp. 328-349.
12. 1066 and All That: A Memorable History of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings and 2 Genuine Dates, written by W.C.Sellar and R.J.Yeatman, was first serialised by Punch magazine, but was then published as a book by Methuen & Co. Ltd. in 1930.
13. According to Wikipedia: ‘The Heptarchy (Greek: πτά + ρχή seven + realm) is a collective name applied to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of south, east, and central Great Britain during late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, conventionally identified as seven: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Wessex. The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms eventually unified into the Kingdom of England’, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heptarchy. But  see http://abuseofhistory.wordpress.com/tag/british-museum/ (What has the Heptarchy ever done for us?) for a discussion of what historians now believe about this period. See also John Blair, The Anglo-Saxon Age: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2000).
14. Thomas Gradgrind was a fictional character, a retired wholesale hardware merchant, in Charles Dickens’ novel, Hard Times (1854). The opening scene, set in a school in Gradgrind’s Coketown, follows a conversation between him and the class of Mr M’Choakumchild, in which Gradgrind praises Bitzer, a boy who can define a horse with a list of related facts. But the utilitarian Gradgrind pours scorn on another pupil, Sissy Jupe – whose father’s profession is ‘horse-riding’ linked to the circus – who understands the real essence of horses and loves them, indeed has ironically an equally utilitarian attachment to them, given their role in the life of her family. She uses the word ‘fancy’, to his distaste, when responding to his question about papering a wall with images of horses or carpeting a floor with flowers. Dickens skilfully juxtaposes ‘fancy’ with ‘fact’. Gradgrind’s harsh philosophy is contrasted with a more empathetic, indeed merciful, attitude to life in various places through this novel, which satirises a relentless Victorian business model in which people were treated and controlled almost like machines. The circus folk, including Mr Sleary, provide a contrasting natural spontaneousness.  Although it might be tempting to see, in this talk, Simon Schama playing Sissy Jupe to Michael Gove’s Bitzer (or even his Gradgrind!), the truth is more subtle: that it is not just facts that are needed, but some emotion too; facts need to be put into much wider contexts as Simon Schama demonstrates, and these contexts require scholarship (as the leadership in the good practice school in Cambridgeshire [Cottenham Village College] discovered); indeed, in order to allow and facilitate the kind of contextualised storytelling that generates questioning, scholarship is certainly needed, but also the kind of empathy that can place a teacher in the shoes not only of the characters in the story, but also in the shoes of the students being taught.
15. Richard J. Evans (2013) ‘Michael Gove’s history curriculum is a pub quiz not an education – The rote sets in’, New Statesman, March 21, http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/education/2013/03/rote-sets
16. Alex Salmond MSP, First Minister of Scotland 16 May 2007 to 19 November 2014. Leader of the Scottish National Party from 3 September 2004 to to 14 November 2014. MP for Gordon (constituency) from 8 May 2015.. 
17. Mary Seacole (1805 – 1881), Jamaican-born Crimean War nurse and author of Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857). Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-97), author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1797). Simon Schama writes about each of these women in his A History of Britain Volume 3 – The Fate of Empire 1776-2000 (2002, BBC Worldwide) in the chapter ‘Wives, Daughters, Widows’ – Seacole: pp. 220-221, 223; but Wollstonecraft more extensively: pp. 54, 56-7, 74-83, 87-9, 105, 136.
18.This does represent something of a qualitative change from Simon Schama’s recommendations [in The Guardian] of 9/10 November 2010 (see his article ‘Simon Schama: My Vision for History in Schools’, www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/nov/09/future-history-schools). However in this his Hay talk of 30 May 2013 he is making a serious search for what it was that had been really significant about this period, both for India and for Britain. In his list of 6 events which every child should know, in 2010 he had included this description of ‘the Indian moment’ : ‘How was it that a country throwing its weight around the world’s oceans got kicked out of most of America but in two generations came to rule an immense part of the subcontinent? Any class would want to know about the cunning-crazed Robert Clive; to look again at Siraj ud Daula and the tragic ruin that Warren Hastings became, not to mention stories of Brits who defied the race and culture barrier by wearing Indian dress, speaking Indian languages; illicitly marrying Indian princesses’.‘Robert Clive’ is however not described as ‘Clive of India’ with all that seems to imply.
19. Derek and Clive is a double act of comedy characters created by Dudley Moore (Derek) and Peter Cook (Clive) in the 1970s. 
20. H.E. (Henrietta) Marshall (1867-1941) wrote both Our Island Story – A History of Britain for Boys and Girls  (1905, Nelson) and Our Empire Story (1908, Nelson). These books retained a popular readership into the 1950s and 1960s and beyond. On October 5th 2010 Michael Gove had said: ‘The current approach we have to history denies children the opportunity to hear our island story’. Civitas, a think-tank, supported by subscriptions from The Daily Telegraph, republished Our Island Story in 2005. Chapter XCIII of Our Island Story (‘George II – The Story of the Black Hole of Calcutta’, pp. 434-436) includes the story of Robert Clive and the Battle of Plassey (1757):  ‘When Clive heard of this horrible deed [the Black Hole incident], he marched against the native Prince, and utterly defeated him in a place called Plassey. He drove him from his throne, and placed another Prince, who was friendly to the British, upon it; he drove the French from their fortress there, and ever since then the power of Britain has grown and grown in India, until today our King, the King of Great Britain and Ireland, is also the Emperor of India’ (Marshall, 1905, p. 436). The king referred to was Edward VII (1901-1910). Simon Schama writes about Clive and related matters in A History of Britain (Vol. 2) 1603-1776 – The British Wars, pp. 402-408.  This comparison between the Marshall version and scholarly work is an example of why it is important to have an historian evaluating a curriculum. The influence of Marshall can be seen not only in her ‘canon’ of events and their romanticised interpretation of British history, but also in the structure of Our Island Story with its set of chronologically sequential landmark events linked to the actions of heroes, heroines or – in some cases – villains. In her book The Warrior Queens (Anchor Books, 1990) Antonia Fraser includes one of A.S.Forrest’s original and evocative illustrations (the one facing page 20 – ‘Will you follow me, men?’) to the chapter (‘The story of a Warrior Queen’) in Marshall’s book, and she states on the Civitas website,  ‘I was given H.E. Marshall's Our Island Story at Christmas 1936 and I’ve still got that copy. It was a direct inspiration for me in my career as a historian stating that the book and its pictures formed part of her childhood history education’.  Despite its old-fashioned approach and its inaccuracies (e.g. the story of the Princes in the Tower is taken straight from the Shakespeare play) it has provided strong images which have fed the ideological battle over the history curriculum (see Andrew Hough, ‘Revealed: David Cameron's favourite childhood book is Our Island Story’, The Daily Telegraph, 29 October, 2010,
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/8094333/Revealed-David-Camerons-favourite-childhood-book-is-Our-Island-Story.html). Antonia Fraser was careful to distinguish between the historical Boudica (or Boudicca) and the mythical Boadicea – it is the mythic elements of the Marshall work (originally written in Melbourne) which still exert influence over popular memory in some influential quarters. Cameron said: ‘It is written in a way that really captured my imagination and which nurtured my interest in the history of our great nation’. But according to Hough he describes it, perhaps perceptively, though not entirely accurately, as a ‘novel’. On February 7th 2013 when Michael Gove announced his curriculum reforms in the House of Commons, he said, ‘… and in history, there is a clear narrative of British progress, with a proper emphasis on heroes and heroines from our past’. See Hansard, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm130207/debtext/130207-0001.htm#13020759000004.
21. An Indian imperial power. The Maratha Confederacy period was 1761-1818.
22. Herodotus (c.484 – 425 BCE) born in Halicarnassus in Ionia – modern day Bodrum in Turkey, author of The Histories, written (in the Ionian dialect) from the 450s to the 420s BCE.
23. Thucydides (c.460 – c. 395 BCE), author of History of the Peloponnesian War (up to 411 BCE)
24. Simon Schama first uses this phrase in The Guardian, 9 November 2010 (revised 10 Nov), www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/nov/09/future-history-schools. The theme was also drawn upon by Richard J. Evans in ‘The Wonderfulness of Us – The Tory Interpretation of History’, London Review of Books, 17 March 2011, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n06/richard-j-evans/the-wonderfulness-of-us.
25. Columbia University in the City of New York:  http://www.columbia.edu/cu/arthistory/faculty/Schama.html
26. Actually there is, under ‘the Stuart period’ at the end of Key Stage 2 (although there was a change to this in the final version of the curriculum).
27. A tribune (according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, 11th Edition, 2004) is an official in ancient Rome chosen by the plebeians to protect their interests.
28. Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881); Charles Dickens (1812-1870); John Ruskin (1819-1900); Augustus Pugin (1812-1842). All of these men, but especially Carlyle and Ruskin, have a strong presence in Schama’s A History of Britain Volume 3 - The Fate of Empire 1776-2000 (Volume 3), judging by the number of pages references: Carlyle (pp. 1689, 170, 172-3, 184, 202, 213, 240, 242,347, 413, 419, 553); Dickens (pp. 172, 184, 231, 347); Ruskin (172, 173, 177, 207, 234, 236-7, 247, 413, 416); and Pugin (173, 174-6, 177-8, 347, 413 [Pugin’s book, Contrasts (1836) 171, 173, 177]) Pugin is remarkable in Schama’s eyes for in his promoting of a Gothic revival he was reconnecting Victorian England with its medieval past, rooted in a subaltern movement – the medieval crafts.  Schama is in a  way doing what Butterfield did in his 1945 book, The Englishman and His History (Cambridge University Press) discussing how each age appropriated periods of the past for its own purposes. Also Friedrich Engels (1820-1895). Engels’ book, The Condition of the Working Class in England, finished in March 1845, was first published in Leipzig in 1846. Engels also gets a passing mention in Vol. 3 of Schama’s history (p.165).  
29. Niall Ferguson (Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, where he is a resident faculty member of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies; Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University; and Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University) has been very much part of this debate since the Hay Festival three years previously, 30 May 2010, when he gave this talk, ‘Down with junk history: a campaign for real history in schools’, (http://www.hayfestival.com/p-2464-niall-ferguson.aspx [audio podcast]), ironically a session attended by Michael Gove himself, who can be heard asking Professor Ferguson whether he will be ready to help with reframing the history curriculum. This Hay talk includes a reference to his six ‘killer applications’, a theme developed in his subsequent book The West and the Rest (Allen Lane, 2011) which also became the topic of Channel 4 television programme, also in 2011.  Thus Ferguson was recommending for schools a grand connecting narrative of the rise of the West, particularly from 1500 to 1913. This was to be a cautionary tale, perhaps with a parallel story of the more recent economic rise of East, the West having lost its grip on some of its essential ‘killer applications’ [competition; the Scientific Revolution; the rule of law and representative government (feeding into its corresponding section in the book, on property); modern medicine; the consumer society; and the work ethic], perhaps the work ethic, although the West’s failure to regulate some of its institutions, particularly its banks, would form part of a separate work by Ferguson: The Great Degeneration – How Institutions Decay and Economies Die (Allen Lane, 2012 – the book of BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures).  Ferguson’s 2010 Hay talk was based on a chapter, ‘The Decline of History and the Futures of Western Civilisation’ in Liberating Learning – Widening Participation, edited by Patrick Derham and Michael Worton (University of Buckingham Press, 2010, pp. 15-23), in which he had not only introduced the six killer applications, but had also provided six key questions to drive the narrative behind them (p.21): (1)  What was the role of institutions (as against resource endownments) in the ‘great divergence’ of the West from the East after 1500? (2) Why was there no Scientific Revolution outside the West? (3) Why did Western politics make the transition to truly representative governments before others? (4) How far was Western ascendancy due to imperial exploitation and coercion? (5) Why did the Industrial Revolution and the Consumer Society originate in the West? (6) Did religion (e.g. Weber’s ‘Protestant ethic’) play any significant role in Western ascendancy? This 2010 chapter reveals that Ferguson was part of a group meeting in 2005 at Dartington Hall in Devon under the auspices of the Prince of Wales to discuss how history education might be improved. Ferguson’s Hay presentation (together with Michael Gove’s reaction to it) was immediately treated as provocative and controversial by Guardian journalist Seumas Milne, ‘This attempt to rehabilitate empire is a recipe for conflict’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/10/british-empire-michael-gove-history-teaching. His attack on Ferguson was met by a counter-attack by Ferguson himself:  ‘Seumas Milne’s article (10 June) is a shocking piece of crass misrepresentation, not to mention shocking historical relativism’ (‘Historical dispute over the facts and figures of the European empires’, The Guardian, June 12, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/jun/12/facts-and-figures-of-empire). Later on in the process Niall Ferguson was engaged in a filmed debate with Richard J. Evans (University of Oxford Podcasts, The Jesus College History Debate, ‘What history should British children be taught?’ held at the Law Society in London with Lord Bragg as chair and Professor Niall Ferguson and Professor Richard Evans, on the evening of Wednesday 9 March, 2011, http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/what-history-should-british-children-be-taught-audio). Evans remarks in the debate that by this time Michael Gove had already rejected Niall Ferguson’s big picture interpretational thesis in favour of the Schama one (whatever that would prove to be). Nevertheless, after the publication of the draft curriculum of February 7 2013 – and despite the document’s emphasis on national history rather than the West as a whole (‘our island story’ rather than ‘our western story’ – Ferguson was to write, first an article in support of Michael Gove (‘On the teaching of history, Michael Gove is right. Why do critics feel obliged to defend a status quo that so many teachers, parents and pupils agree is indefensible?’ The Guardian, 15 February, 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/15/history-teaching-curriculum-gove-right); and  subsequently was also a joint signatory of a letter of support (Abulafia, D., Beevor, A., Black, J., Burleigh, M., Charmley, J., Clark, J.C.D, Ferguson, N., Foreman, A., Jennings, J., Sebag Montefiore, S., Roberts, A., Skidmore, C., Starkey, D. , Thorpe, D., & Tombs, R. (2013) Letter to The Times, 27 February (text of this can be found on in Appendix 4 page 87 of IJHLTR 11.2 [May, 2013], http://www.cumbria.ac.uk/Public/ResearchOffice/Documents/Journals/InternationalJournalOfHistoricalLearningTeachingAndResearchVol11No2.pdf). It is of note that 3 years to the day after Niall Ferguson’s talk, and in the same room at the Hay Festival, Simon Schama would be offering this – a strange mix of ‘grandstanding’ and a polished performance as court jester – attacking but also making kindly fun of the very curriculum for which Michael Gove had asked for Schama’s  help, having initially wanted Niall Ferguson’s;  and it would be – indeed, almost as Seumas Milne predicted, a construction of the wording associated with the interpretation of empire that would cause one of the biggest problems (in Simon Schama’s view anyway). There is a sharp contrast between Ferguson’s anecdotal assessments (in his Hay talk of 2010 and in the debate with Richard J.Evans of 2011) of what was wrong with history teaching in England and the two sets of evidence-based publications: (i) Ofsted’s History for All report of March 2011 http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/history-for-all, and (ii) The Right Kind of History by David Cannadine, Jenny Keating and Nicola Sheldon (Palgrave Macmillan 2011). There also seemed to be an ignorance of actually was in the history curriculum for the 7-11 and 11-14 age groups, as the Henry and Hitler caricature is quite a long way from the truth.  In another contribution, but to a wider historiographical debate and seeking criteria for convergence rather than divergence, David Cannadine deconstructed and reconstructed his own set of six killer – if not applications – then at least criteria for classifying identities, in The Undivided Past – History Beyond our Differences (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); these areas being: religion, nation, class, gender, race and civilization.  Both Ferguson (2011, pp. 312-313) and Cannadine (2013, pp. 244-254) write about Samuel P. Huntington and his ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis which has influenced neoconservative thinking, but both show elements of scepticism when evaluating Huntington’s theory.
30. Warren Hastings (1732-1818) first Governor-General of Bengal.  Impeached but acquitted of all charges in 1795. Simon Schama writes about him at length in his A History of Britain (vol. 2) 1603-1776 – The British Wars, pp. 408-13. Schama suggests that Hastings was made a scapegoat for the loss of the American colonies and in a bizarre move was replaced in India by Cornwallis (1738-1805) who had surrendered at Yorktown (Virginia) (1781). 
31. Sir William Jones (1746-1794) was a philologist who worked on the idea of Indo-European languages.
32. Edward Said (1935-2003), author of Orientalism (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978).
33. Thomas Babington Macaulay (later 1st Baron Macaulay [Lord Macaulay) (1800-1859) Whig politician and historian. Macaulay’s speech to the House of Commons on 10 July 1833 is recorded in Simon Schama’s A History of Britain Volume 3 – The Fate of Empire 1776-2000 (Volume 3), pp. 270-272:

In 1833 parliament had finally liquidated the commercial side of the East India Company. What profits were to be made from indigo, sugar, cotton and the only steadily lucrative business of the time, narcotics (opium traded to China in return for tea), would henceforth be harvested by private traders. The ‘Company’ was now candidly what for many generations it had actually been, a tax-and-war machine, or, as it liked to think of itself, a government. A member of the ‘Board of Control’ – the body answerable to parliament and co-governing India with the Company’s Court of Directors – it fell to Macaulay to justify the Whig government’s policy in the Commons. The prospect, despite Macaulay’s reputation as the ‘Burke of the age’, was not one that packed the benches. (‘Dinner bell’ Burke had himself often emptied them, of course.)  On 10 July 1833, speaking to a chamber only a third full, Macaulay delivered his vision of British responsibility to India. It was a performance of stirring, Ciceronian eloquence in which, however ignorance competed with arrogance. But it was, none the less, the manifesto of the liberal empire of good intentions. Even as Macaulay charted the beginning of the enterprise, he looked forward to its gloriously disinterested end:
‘It may be that the public mind of India may expand under our system till it has outgrown the system; that by good government we may educate our subjects into a capacity for better government; that, having been instructed in European knowledge, they may, in some future age, demand European institutions. Whether such a day will ever come I know not. But never will I attempt to avert or retard it. Whenever it comes, it will be the proudest day in English history. To have found a great people sunk in the lowest depths of slavery and superstition, to have so ruled them as to have made them desirous and capable of all the privileges of citizens, would indeed be a title to glory all our own. The sceptre may pass away from us. Unforeseen accidents may derange our most profound schemes of policy. Victory may be inconstant to our arms. But there are triumphs which are followed by no reverse. There is an empire exempt from all natural causes of decay. Those triumphs are the pacific triumphs of reason over barbarism, that is the imperishable empire of our arts and our morals, our literature and our laws.’
34. The reading is from Macaulay’s History of England from the Accession of James II in Four Volumes, Volume One (originally 1848; my edition is J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, Everyman’s Library, 1906/1957), at the beginning of Chapter IV, pp. 321-2).

General comment
Despite saying that history isn’t about celebrating ‘the wonderfulness of us’ he does actually include quite a few events that attract the verb ‘celebrate’, including Magna Carta and the reforming work of Victorian ‘tribunes’ like Carlyle, Dickens and Ruskin (not to mention Pugin, although he is probably in a slightly different category to the other 3). He is also a bit cagey about condemning all aspects of imperialism, remarking on how Warren Hastings and later Macaulay showed signs of concern about (a) the education of Moslems and Hindus (especially in the case of Hastings), and (b) about internal institutions (Macaulay in his speech (given above) in Parliament on 10 July 1833, quoted in Schama’s A History of Britain Volume 3 The Fate of Empire 1776-2000, p. 270). 

My other observation is that the kind of storytelling that can generate questions (set in a big picture context) requires from teachers the kind of pedagogic content knowledge that is an amalgam of (very) sophisticated knowledge bases, obviously teaching skills, but plus the scholarly/substantive [content knowledge] as well as the scholarly/syntactic [knowledge of history as a discipline and set of processes], indeed to use Dickensian-Gradgrindian language (Collingwoodian too), where ‘fact’ and fancy and an insight into the nature of historical evidence come into play. Simon Schama himself of course has all of these attributes in bucketfuls. Maybe a certain tactfulness is lacking in the way he seems so deftly to have shrugged off his once quasi-official role in all this, but he is holding the powerful to account, performing the function of an historian, and his criticisms are expressed with moderation and humour. His summary of British exceptionalism as ‘dissent’, drawing strength from the 17th century debates around Puritanism, is certainly worth considering, and his tour of Herodotus and Thucydides is also quite stimulating, especially as each of these two Greeks represents a missing element in the February 7th draft history curriculum: the sense of history being about the study of ‘other people’ (Herodotus) and the deeper kind of history which searches for ‘causal realities’ (Thucydides).  Although Michael Gove’s draft structure does not strictly deny teachers or their students the opportunity to do this, the infrastructural constraints within schools – not least the demands of the rest of the rest of the curriculum as well as the early finishing age for school history – make a deeper approach much more difficult.

When I was a primary teacher in 1989-1990 I was a member of the Department of Education and Science (DES) National Curriculum History Working Group. Ironically enough two parallels with Niall Ferguson and Simon Schama are (a) that the historian working on HWG for the first half of 1989 (until he resigned on 30 June) was Dr John Roberts, Warden of Merton College, Oxford, who had been presenting on television his series The Triumph of the West, which was accompanied by or built on, a book of the same name (1985); and (b) that Roberts’ successor, Professor Peter Marshall (of King’s College, University of London), was an expert on the history of the British Empire, and particularly India. He, like Schama, had written about the East India Company, Clive and Hastings.  All members of HWG were interviewed personally by the Secretary of State for Education at that time, Kenneth Baker. Unlike the 2010-2013 experience where specialised subject advice outside the central national curriculum group was not bounded by any publicly shared ground-rules, and accountability was apparently undefined and unrestricted, the working group submitted two reports before a final version was written and even the last report (Final Report of the History Working Group, April 1990) was put out for an extra period of consultation of three further months. 

Of course at the time when Simon Schama was giving this talk and engaging with these teachers and members of the public, a round table group was involved with the re-drafting of the curriculum, having formal meetings on 26 March and 10 June 2013.  Their names can be found in this response by the DfE to a Freedom of Information Request:  https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/history_curriculum_expert_group

In a parallel development Michael Gove became involved in a controversy linked to the history curriculum debate in that it was about methods and approaches to history teaching. He gave a speech to Brighton College on x May 2013 in which he criticized (a) one individual and his website and (b) the authors of four separate articles published in the Historical Association’s journal Primary History. The Brighton College speech prompted several articles in the media, a statement from the Historical Association and a letter to xxx signed by 54 historians. Details of the Gove speech, the website, the Primary History articles, the media response and the letter signed by the group of historians, can be found in Appendix

Robert Guyver (originally) 22 June 2013 (updated) 25 February and 10 March 2016

Appendix 2 – Michael Gove’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference 5 October 2010
The relevant part of the speech is this:
But then, how many of our students are learning the lessons of history? 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. The current approach we have to history denies children the opportunity to hear our island story. Children are given a mix of topics at primary, a cursory run through Henry the Eighth and Hitler at secondary and many give up the subject at 14, without knowing how the vivid episodes of our past become a connected narrative. Well, this trashing of our past has to stop. I am delighted to announce today that Professor Simon Schama has agreed to advise us on how we can put British history at the heart of a revived national curriculum.

Appendix 3 – Simon Schama’s statement (5 October 2010) in reaction to his ‘appointment’ by Michael Gove
This was reported in the Guardian:

In a statement, Schama said he hoped to instil "excitement and joy" into the history curriculum as pupils connected with their ancestry. “A return to coherent gripping history is not a step backwards to dry as dust instruction,” he said. “It represents a moment of cultural and educational rediscovery. Without this renewed sense of our common story – one full of contention, not self-congratulation – we will be a poorer and weaker Britain.”

This was followed by an article by Simon Schama in the Guardian, ‘My vision for history in schools’, http://www.theguardian.com/education/2010/nov/09/future-history-schools. It was first published online on 9 November but amended on 10 November (see note aty bottom of article).

Appendix 4 – House of Lords (2011a), Schools: History Debate, 20 October, Hansard transcript and parliamentlive.tv video
House of Lords (2011a), Schools: History Debate, 20 October, Hansard transcript. Available
online: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/111020-
0001.htm and http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/
Also available on: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2011-10-20a.401.2
House of Lords (2011b), Schools: History Debate, 20 October [video]. Available online:
This is quite long: 11.05 a.m. – 4.22 p.m.

Appendix 5 – Politeia publications related to the history curriculum debate
Abulafia, D., Clark, J. and Tombs, R. (2012), ‘History in the New Curriculum: Three
Proposals’, online appendices in R. Tombs with A. Waldman and C. Moule, ‘Lessons
from History: Freedom, Aspiration and the New Curriculum’, in S. Lawlor (ed.),
Curriculum Series, London: Politeia, 2012. Available online: http://www.politeia.co.uk/

Abulafia, D., Clark, J. and Tombs, R. (2013), ‘History in the Making: The New Curriculum
Right or Wrong?’ in S. Lawlor (ed.), Curriculum Series, London: Politeia.

Tombs, R. with Waldman, A. and Moule, C. (2012a), ‘Lessons from History: Freedom, Aspiration and the New Curriculum’, in S. Lawlor (ed.), Curriculum Series, London: Politeia.

Tombs, R. with Waldman, A. and Moule, C. (2012b), ‘Additional Appendix’. Available online: http://www.politeia.co.uk/appendix, found within http://www.politeia.co.uk/sites/default/files/files/Robert%20Tombs%20Second%20Appendix%20Final.pdf

Appendix 6 – House of Commons, The All Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and History (January 2013), History for All? Report
House of Commons, The All Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and History (2013),
History for All? Report, together with oral evidence, January. Available online: http://

Page 4: Introduction and Summary
Page 6: Oral Evidence, 22 May 2012 First Session
Page 30: Oral Evidence 22 May 2012 Second Session
Page 48: Oral Evidence 22 May 2012 Third Session
Page 58: Written statement reflecting Oral Evidence 21 June 2012

Appendix 7 – Michael Gove’s statement in the House of Commons 7 February 2013
A key principle of our reforms is that the statutory national curriculum should form only part of the whole school curriculum, not its entirety. Each individual school should have the freedom to shape the whole curriculum to their particular pupils’ aspirations—a freedom already enjoyed by the growing numbers of academies and free schools, as well, of course, as schools in the independent sector. Programmes of study in almost all subjects—subjects other than primary English, mathematics and science—have been significantly slimmed down, and we have specifically stripped out unnecessary prescription about how to teach, and concentrated only on the essential knowledge and skills that every child should master.
In maths—learning from east Asia—there is a stronger emphasis on arithmetic and more demanding content in fractions, decimals and percentages, to build solid foundations for algebra. In the sciences, there is rigorous detail on the key scientific processes from evolution to energy. In English, there is more clarity on spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as a new emphasis on the great works of the literary canon. In foreign languages, there will be a new stress on learning proper grammatical structures and practising translation.

In geography, there is an emphasis on locational knowledge, using maps and locating key geographical features from capital cities to the world’s great rivers; and in history, there is a clear narrative of British progress, with a proper emphasis on heroes and heroines from our past. In art and design, there is a stronger emphasis on painting and drawing skills. In music, there is a balance between performance and appreciation. We have also replaced the old information and communications technology curriculum with a new computing curriculum, with help from Google, Facebook and some of Britain’s most brilliant computer scientists. We have also included rigorous computer science GCSEs in the English baccalaureate.

With sharper accountability, a more ambitious curriculum and world-class qualifications, I believe we can create an education system that can compete with the best in the world—a system that gives every young person, regardless of background, the high-quality education, high aspirations and high achievement they need and deserve. I commend this statement to the House.

Appendix 8
The draft of national curriculum history (Feb 7 2013)
Purpose of study
A high-quality history education equips pupils to think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. A knowledge of Britain’s past, and our place in the world, helps us understand the challenges of our own time.
The National Curriculum for history aims to ensure that all pupils:
·         know and understand the story of these islands: how the British people shaped this nation and how Britain influenced the world
·         know and understand British history as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the story of the first settlers in these islands to the development of the institutions which govern our lives today
·         know and understand the broad outlines of European and world history: the growth and decline of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; the achievements and follies of mankind
·         gain and deploy a historically-grounded understanding of abstract terms such as ‘empire’, ‘civilisation’, ‘parliament’ and ‘peasantry’
·         understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses
·         understand how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed
·         gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history; between cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history; and between short- and long-term timescales.

Attainment targets
By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.

Subject content
Key Stage1
Pupils should begin to develop an awareness of the past and the ways in which it is similar to and different from the present. They should understand simple subject-specific vocabulary relating to the passing of time and begin to develop an understanding of the key features of a range of different events and historical periods.

Pupils should be taught about:
·         simple vocabulary relating to the passing of time such as ‘before’, ‘after’, ‘past’, ‘present’, ‘then’ and ‘now’
·         the concept of nation and of a nation’s history
·         concepts such as civilisation, monarchy, parliament, democracy, and war and peace that are essential to understanding history
·         the lives of significant individuals in Britain's past who have contributed to our nation's achievements– scientists such as Isaac Newton or Michael Faraday, reformers such as Elizabeth Fry or William Wilberforce, medical pioneers such as William Harvey or Florence Nightingale, or creative geniuses such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Christina Rossetti
·         key events in the past that are significant nationally and globally, particularly those that coincide with festivals or other events that are commemorated throughout the year
·         significant historical events, people and places in their own locality.

Key Stage 2
Pupils should be taught about the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome.
In addition, across Key Stages 2 and 3, pupils should be taught the essential chronology of Britain’s history. This will serve as an essential frame of reference for more in-depth study. Pupils should be made aware that history takes many forms, including cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social history. Pupils should be taught about key dates, events and significant individuals. They should also be given the opportunity to study local history.

Pupils should be taught the following chronology of British history sequentially:
early Britons and settlers, including:
·         the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages
·         Celtic culture and patterns of settlement

Roman conquest and rule, including:
·           Caesar, Augustus, and Claudius
·         Britain as part of the Roman Empire
·         the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire

Anglo-Saxon and Viking settlement, including:
·         the Heptarchy
·         the spread of Christianity
·         key developments in the reigns of Alfred, Athelstan, Cnut and Edward the Confessor

the Norman Conquest and Norman rule, including:
·         the Domesday Book
·         feudalism
·         Norman culture
·         the Crusades

Plantagenet rule in the 12th and 13th centuries, including:
·         key developments in the reign of Henry II, including the murder of Thomas Becket
·         Magna Carta
·         de Montfort’s Parliament

relations between England, Wales, Scotland and France, including:
·         William Wallace
·         Robert the Bruce
·         Llywelyn and Dafydd ap Gruffydd
·         the Hundred Years War

life in 14th-century England, including:
·         chivalry
·         the Black Death
·         the Peasants’ Revolt

the later Middle Ages and the early modern period, including:
·         Chaucer and the revival of learning
·         Wycliffe’s Bible
·         Caxton and the introduction of the printing press
·         the Wars of the Roses
·         Warwick the Kingmaker
·         the Tudor period, including religious strife and Reformation in the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary

Elizabeth I’s reign and English expansion, including:
·         colonisation of the New World
·         plantation of Ireland
·         conflict with Spain
·         the Renaissance in England, including the lives and works of individuals such as Shakespeare and Marlowe

the Stuart period, including:
·         the Union of the Crowns
·         King versus Parliament
·         Cromwell’s commonwealth, the Levellers and the Diggers
·         the restoration of the monarchy
·         the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London
·         Samuel Pepys and the establishment of the Royal Navy
·         the Glorious Revolution, constitutional monarchy and the Union of the Parliaments.

Key Stage 3
Building on the study of the chronology of the history of Britain in Key Stage 2, teaching of the periods specified below should ensure that pupils understand and use historical concepts in increasingly sophisticated ways to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts. They should develop an awareness and understanding of the role and use of different types of sources, as well as their strengths, weaknesses and reliability. They should also examine cultural, economic, military, political, religious and social aspects and be given the opportunity to study local history. The teaching of the content should be approached as a combination of overview and in-depth studies.

Pupils should be taught about:
The development of the modern nation
Britain and her Empire, including:
·         Wolfe and the conquest of Canada
·         Clive of India
·         Competition with France and the Jacobite rebellion
·         the American Revolution
·         the Enlightenment in England, including Francis Bacon, John Locke, Christopher Wren, Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, Adam Smith and the impact of European thinkers

the struggle for power in Europe, including:
·           the French Revolution and the Rights of Man
·           the Napoleonic Wars, Nelson, Wellington and Pitt
·           the Congress of Vienna

the struggle for power in Britain, including:
·         the Six Acts and Peterloo through to Catholic Emancipation
·         the slave trade and the abolition of slavery, the role of Olaudah Equiano and free slaves
·         the Great Reform Act and the Chartists

the High Victorian era, including:
·         Gladstone and Disraeli
·         the Second and Third Reform Acts
·         the battle for Home Rule
·         Chamberlain and Salisbury

the development of a modern economy, including:
·         iron, coal and steam
·         the growth of the railways
·         great innovators such as Watt, Stephenson and Brunel
·         the abolition of the Corn Laws
·         the growth and industrialization of cities
·         the Factory Acts
·         the Great Exhibition and global trade
·         social conditions
·         the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the birth of trade unionism

Britain’s global impact in the 19th century, including:
·         war in the Crimea and the Eastern Question
·         gunboat diplomacy and the growth of Empire
·         the Indian Mutiny and the Great Game
·         the scramble for Africa
·         the Boer Wars

Britain’s social and cultural development during the Victorian era, including:
·         the changing role of women, including figures such as Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole, George Eliot and Annie Besant
·         the impact of mass literacy and the Elementary Education Act.
The twentieth century
Britain transformed, including:
·         the Rowntree Report and the birth of the modern welfare state
·         ‘Peers versus the People’
·         Home Rule for Ireland
·         the suffragette movement and women's emancipation

the First World War, including:
·         causes such as colonial rivalry, naval expansion and European alliances
·         key events
·         conscription
·         trench warfare
·         Lloyd George’s coalition
·         the Russian Revolution
·         The Armistice
·         the peace of Versailles

the 1920s and 1930s, including:
·         the first Labour Government
·         universal suffrage
·         the Great Depression
·         the abdication of Edward VIII and constitutional crisis

the Second World War, including:
·         causes such as appeasement, the failure of the League of Nations and the rise of the Dictators
·         the global reach of the war – from Arctic Convoys to the Pacific Campaign
·         the roles of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin
·         Nazi atrocities in occupied Europe and the unique evil of the Holocaust

Britain’s retreat from Empire, including:
·         independence for India and the Wind of Change in Africa
·         the independence generation – Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah, Kenyatta, Nkrumah
·         the Cold War and the impact of Communism on Europe
·         the Attlee Government and the growth of the welfare state
·         the Windrush generation, wider new Commonwealth immigration, and the arrival of East African Asians
·         society and social reform, including the abolition of capital punishment, the legalization of abortion and homosexuality, and the Race Relations Act

Economic change and crisis, the end of the post-war consensus, and governments up to and including:
·         the election of Margaret Thatcher
·         Britain’s relations with Europe, the Commonwealth, and the wider world

·         the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

·         Appendix 9
Joint Statement on the Draft National Curriculum for History 12 February 2013
As representatives of the principal organisations for historians in the UK, we would like to respond to the publication of the draft Programmes of Study for History in the national curriculum released by the Department for Education on 7 February 2013. We want to voice significant reservations both about the content of the Programmes of Study which have been proposed, and about the process by which the Programmes have been devised.
First, we believe that the Programmes of Study are far too narrowly and exclusively focused on British history to serve the needs of children growing up in the world today. History is of course an important and necessary tool for teaching future citizens about the making of their localities and nations. But it is not only that – it is also the treasure-house of human experience across millennia and around the world. Students should learn about British history: but knowledge of the history of other cultures (and not only as they have been encountered through their interactions with the British Isles) is as vital as knowledge of foreign languages to enable British citizens to understand the full variety and diversity of human life. The narrowness of the Programmes deprives children, many of whom will not continue with the study of History beyond the national curriculum, of the vast bulk of the precious inheritance of the past.
Secondly, we welcome the inclusion within the Programmes of Study of topics concerned with social, economic and cultural history. Students should certainly be taught political history; but they should also be taught the histories of economies, societies, ideas, beliefs and cultures. As the writings of historians over the past hundred years have eloquently demonstrated, it is in any case impossible properly to understand political history without an appreciation of these other histories. It might still be debated whether the specifications set out in the Programmes of Study have yet found the ideal balance between political history and other aspects of the past, not least in relation to conveying to students a proper appreciation of what the discipline of History now encompasses. This is especially important with reference to how the subject is studied and taught in the higher level qualifications delivered in both schools and universities for which these programmes of study must in part be seen as preparation (a point of equal relevance in consideration of the concentration on British history).
Thirdly, we regret that the construction of the Programme in a strictly chronological sequence from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 ensures that many students will not be properly exposed to the exciting and intellectually demanding study of pre-modern history other than in the very earliest stages of their studies. This risks promoting even if only inadvertently the naive assumption that human society and culture become more sophisticated and complex through time, and also potentially encourages students and teachers to neglect pre-modern history as they move on to study history at GCSE, A-Level and beyond.

We recognize that there are limits to the capacity of a curriculum to encompass all desiderata, and that a balance must be struck between ambition and practicality. It is partly for this reason that we also regret the way in which the curriculum was drafted. Despite much interesting debate in the media about the future of the curriculum, and especially the History curriculum, in the early days of the current government, the details of the curriculum have been drafted inside the Department for Education without any systematic consultation or public discussion with historians, teachers or the wider public. The contrast with the practice of the Conservative government of the late 1980s when it drafted the first national curriculum is striking. Then, a History Working Group including teachers, educational experts and academics worked in tandem with the ministry of the day to produce first an interim report and then a final report in the midst of much public discussion. The curriculum that resulted was widely supported across many professional and political divisions in the teaching and academic professions and by the general public. The current government was certainly right to feel that after many interim changes it was time for a fresh look. Unfortunately, it has not attempted to assemble the same kind of consensus, and as a result it has produced a draft curriculum which it can be argued could still benefit from extensive discussion about how to ensure that it best serves both good practice and the public interest. Rather than find ourselves cast necessarily in the role of critics, we would welcome an opportunity to engage constructively with the government in fashioning Programmes of Study which could seek to deliver outcomes equally acceptable to politicians, working historians, the public at large and above all students, their teachers and parents.

Professor David D’Avray, Chair, Medieval Studies Section, British Academy
Professor Jackie Eales, President, Historical Association
Professor Mary Fulbrook, Chair, Modern History Section, British Academy
Dr Keith McLay, Co-Convenor, History UK
Professor Peter Mandler, President, Royal Historical Society
Professor Hamish Scott, Chair, Early Modern History Section, British Academy

12 February 2013

Appendix 10
The full text of the historians’ letter to The Times, Wednesday 27 February 2013
Dear Sir,
We believe that every pupil should have the opportunity to attain a broad and comprehensive knowledge of English and British history. Alongside other core subjects of the curriculum, mathematics, English, sciences and modern languages, history has a special role in developing in each and every individual a sense of their own identity as part of a historic community with world-wide links, interwoven with the ability to analyse and research the past that remains essential for a full understanding of modern society.
It should be made possible for every pupil to take in the full narrative of our history throughout every century. No one would expect a pupil to be denied the full range of the English language; equally, no pupil should any longer be denied the chance to obtain a full knowledge of the rich tapestry of the history of their own country, in both its internal and international dimensions.
It is for this reason that we give our support in principle to the changes to the new national curriculum for history that the government is proposing. While these proposals will no doubt be adapted as a result of full consultation, the essential idea that a curriculum framework should ensure that pupils are given an overall understanding of history through its most important changes, events and individuals is a welcome one. Above all, we recognise that a coherent curriculum that reflects how events and topics relate to one another over time, together with a renewed focus in primary school for history, has long been needed.  Such is the consensus view in most countries of Europe.  We also welcome the indication that sufficient freedom will in future be given to history teachers to plan and teach in ways which will revitalise history in schools.

We are in no doubt that the proposed changes to the curriculum will provoke controversy among those attached to the status quo and suspicious of change. Yet we must not shy away from this golden opportunity to place history back at the centre of the national curriculum and make it part of the common culture of every future citizen.

Yours sincerely,
Professor David Abulafia FBA
Antony Beevor FRSL
Professor Jeremy Black
Professor Michael Burleigh
Professor John Charmley
Professor J.C.D. Clark
Professor Niall Ferguson
Dr Amanda Foreman
Professor Jeremy Jennings
Dr Simon Sebag Montefiore
Dr Andrew Roberts
Chris Skidmore MP
Professor David Starkey FSA
D.R. Thorpe
Professor Robert Tombs

Appendix 11
Other significant articles
From Seumas Milne
Milne, S. (2009) ‘This rewriting of history is spreading Europe’s poison’, The Guardian, 9 September, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/sep/09/second-world-war-soviet-pact
Milne, S. (2010) ‘This attempt to rehabilitate empire is a recipe for conflict’, The Guardian, 10 June, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/jun/10/british-empire-michael-gove-history-teaching.
From Niall Ferguson (with reference to him in first article)
On the Milne article above
(From the general public/Letters) The Guardian (2010), ‘The history curriculum’s great imperial divide’, 15 June http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/jun/15/history-curriculum-imperial-divide
Ferguson, N. (2010) ‘Historical dispute over the facts and figures of the European empires’, The Guardian, 12 June, http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/jun/12/facts-and-figures-of-empire.
Ferguson, N. (2013), ‘On the teaching of history, Michael Gove is right. Why do critics feel obliged to defend a status quo that so many teachers, parents and pupils agree is indefensible?’ The Guardian, 15 February, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/15/history-teaching-curriculum-gove-right

From (Sir) David Cannadine
Cannadine, D. (2013) ‘The future of History’, Times Literary Supplement (TLS), 13 March, http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1228938.ece

Note: David Cannadine co-authored with Jenny Keating and Nicola Sheldon, The Right Kind of History – Teaching the Past in Twentieth Century England (Palgrave Macmillan) which was published in 2011, reviewed in December 2011 by Richard J. Evans (http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-right-kind-of-history-teaching-the-past-in-twentiethcentury-england-by-david-cannadine-jenny-6277488.html) and in  March 2012 by Peter Mandler (President of the Royal Historical Society) (http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1227). It was the subject of a conference in November 2011 at the Institute of Historical Research attended by Michael Gove and two former Secretaries of State for Education (Kenneth Baker and Shirley Williams). See also an interview with David Cannadine about this book on the Historical Association website: http://www.history.org.uk/resources/primary_resource_5003.html. Nicola Sheldon and Jenny Keating talk to former HMI John Hamer about the project on http://www.history.org.uk/resources/secondary_resource_5019.html where they give details about how to access the data from the project.

From (Sir) Richard J. Evans
Evans, R.J. (2011a) ‘The Wonderfulness of Us – The Tory Interpretation of History’, London Review of Books, 17 March, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n06/richard-j-evans/the-wonderfulness-of-us
Evans, R.J. (2011b) ‘Make history compulsory for the right reasons– history teaching is not about encouraging a narrowly patriotic sense of national identity’, The Guardian, 26 August, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/26/history-compulsory-right-reasons
Evans, R.J. (2012) ‘1066 and all that. Michael Gove argues that schools should teach children about kings, queens and wars’, New Statesman, 23 January, http://www.newstatesman.com/education/2012/01/british-history-schools
Evans, R.J. (2013a) ‘Little England folly at the heart of history’, Financial Times, Opinion, February 7, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5b658930-7121-11e2-9b5c-00144feab49a.html#axzz2QXF5IBvY (Log-in necessary for access)
Evans, R.J. (2013b) ‘History teachers learn to face the facts’, The Guardian, 18 February, http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/feb/18/history-teachers-learn-face-facts
Evans, R.J. (2013c) ‘Richard J. Evans on Gove’s planned reforms to history in schools’, Varsity, 27 February, http://www.varsity.co.uk/news/5720
Evans, R.J. (2013d) ‘Michael Gove‘s history curriculum is a pub quiz not an education: the rote sets in’, New Statesman, 21 March

Appendix 12
The ‘Mr Men’ and Primary History controversy May 2013
Michael Gove, ‘What does it mean to be an educated person?,’ 9 May 2013 (Brighton College Speech), https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/what-does-it-mean-tobe-
The four Primary History pieces (three articles and one case study) referred to (and criticized) in the speech above (Primary History 62 (Autumn 2012))
Articles (x3)
Jane Card (2012), ‘Pointing the view: helping pupils to view historical film critically; Case study 2: Using a Public Information film’, Primary History, Issue 62, Autumn, pp. 13-14 (London: The Historical Association).
Susan Edgar (2012), ‘Primary pedagogy and interactive PowerPoint: Lessons from Early Years Primary ITT Students’, Issue 62, Autumn, pp. 15-16 (London: The Historical Association).
Jon Nichol (2012), ‘History mysteries and pupils as history detectives’, Primary History, Issue 62, Autumn, pp. 20-21 (London: The Historical Association).
Case Study (x1)
Ilona Aronovsky with Kate Benson and Ann Plummeridge, ‘Case Study 5: Animation’, pp. 33-4.
Note: I had myself written a brief piece in this same issue (Podcasts on the HA website, p. 41) but yet so had Michael Maddison HMI (‘Using ICT to develop pupils’ understanding and thinking – The view from OFSTED’, p. 5.
Russel Tarr
Russel Tarr, ‘1: Hitler’s Rise to Power: Joint History Lesson, (Year 6 / Year 11)’ Teacher Notes (undated worksheet), http://bit.ly/10SYm84.
Russel Tarr, ‘Active History replies to Gove’s accusation of “infantilisation,”’ 12 May 2013, http://www.activehistory. co.uk/gove.php;
Media Responses
Hurst, G. (2013), ‘Gove‘s historical accuracy is questioned‘, The Times Online, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/education/article3764263.ece,14 May. [Log-in required]
Andrew Levy (2013), ‘Imagine Hitler as one of the Mr Men: Michael Gove slams history teaching in scathing attack on play-based lessons’, 9 May, Daily Mail Online, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2321950/Imagine-Hitler-Mr-Men-Michael-Gove-slams-history-teaching.html.
Jessica Shepherd, ‘“Mr Men” teacher hits back at Michael Gove,’ Guardian Online, 13 May 2013, http://gu.com/p/3fnhk/tf.
Historical Association Response
Historical Association, ‘Cartoons and Mr Men,’ 13 May 2013, http://bit.ly/MsFQMi.
Letter defending the Historical Association
In defence of the Historical Association: The letter signed by 54 historians can be accessed through Richard Toye’s blog, http://bit.ly/1ndIcQw.
What I wrote about it
Michael Gove’s Brighton College speech – Mr Men and Primary History
Michael Gove’s speech to independent school Brighton College on 9 May 2013 was in many ways a misjudgment and, consequently, a public relations disaster, in which he continued a ‘discourse of derision’ towards teachers by appearing to interfere in the micro-managing of the teaching process. This was fed by some ill-informed market research the serious shortcomings of an earlier example of which were later revealed through a Freedom of Information request by a retired teacher, Janet Downs. Astonishingly the Brighton address included references to four separate articles in a single issue of the HA’s journal Primary History. These covered the use of animation, film, interactive PowerPoint, and detective work in history lessons. The burden of the criticism was that the journal was recommending imaginative and creative approaches to history teaching that seemed to be moving the discipline away from a factual base, an echo of Her Majestys Inspectorates (HMI) ‘flights of fancy’ criticisms of the 1970s and 80s.

Michael Gove had also been made aware of a worksheet prepared by Russel Tarr on his ‘activehistory’ website which suggested teaching the Third Reich period by transforming Nazi leaders or those associated with them into ‘Mr Men’ characters. Tarr, of course, had something to say about all this. It must be said that mixing Nazi history with cartoon characters fits the British sense of humour, but to some, like Gove himself, this is still seen as controversial. The HA published a rebuff to Michael Gove online. In addition, and not surprisingly, some fifty-four mainly university-based historians, including a past HA President, Professor Chris Wrigley, and a former President of the RHS, Professor Martin Daunton, went to the press (The Times) on 14 May to complain about what they saw not only as an attack on a revered (and, incidentally, charitable) institution (the HA) but also as political interference. Several of the signatories were involved with the HA at local branch level, giving talks and belonging to committees made up of both town and gown. The HA’s fundamental contribution to grass-roots civil society has been to underwrite and support a dynamic (and indeed democratic) interaction between the general public, history teachers and academics. (Guyver 2014: 8-9)

Robert Guyver, ‘Michael Gove’s History Wars 20102014: The Rise, Fall and Transformation of a Neoconservative Dream’, Agora [Sungraphô] (Journal of HTAV – History Teachers’ Association of Victoria [Australia], Volume 49, Issue 4, pp. 4-11. https://search.informit.com.au/documentSummary;dn=787010623172797;res=IELAPA

Appendix 13
Reform of the National Curriculum in England Consultation Report of the Consultation (July 2013)
History received the largest number of responses of all the national curriculum subjects. Respondents raised a range of issues which included a concern that teaching history chronologically would not allow teachers to revisit certain periods or consolidate learning effectively. Some of these respondents argued that if chronology was the preferred method of presentation then it should be reversed so that young children could start with more recent history which would be more relevant and accessible for them. It was noted, however, that the prescription of a very rigid chronological structure could be problematic for small rural schools with mixed age classes. Some respondents thought that there was too great a focus on British history. Others felt that there was too much content which could lead to superficial learning rather than promoting a deep understanding of history. Some respondents commented that the content was too prescriptive and fact-focused, which might limit teachers’ ability to shape the curriculum to pupils’ needs and interests. A number of respondents also expressed concern about the likely impact of changing curriculum content at key stages 2 and 3 on the use of museums and heritage centres for school trips. (pp. 7-8)
Reform of the national curriculum in England Report of the consultation conducted February – April 2013, July 2013. Online: https://www.education.gov.uk/consultations/downloadableDocs/NC%20in%20England%20consultation%20report%20-%20FINAL%20-%20Accessible.pdf

Appendix 14
Appendix 15 Start the Week Andrew Marr with guests
Start the WeekMichael Gove on teaching history: Andrew Marr with guests Michael Gove, Margaret MacMillan, Simon Schama and Tom Holland. Teaching History discussion, 30 December 2013. Andrew Marr with guests in the studio. Podcast available and downloadable http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01nq01s/p01nq043
Michael Gove is the MP for Surrey Heath and [was then] Secretary of State for Education. Michael Gove
Margaret MacMillan is the Warden of St Antony’s College and a Professor of International History at the University of Oxford.
The War That Ended Peace: How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War is published by Profile Books. Margaret MacMillan
Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University. He is presently working on Volume 2 of The Story of the Jews. Simon Schama
Tom Holland is an author. Herodotus: The Histories, a new translation by Tom Holland, is published by Penguin Classics. Tom Holland

These are from two pieces I have written, referring to this:
Epilogue and conclusions – Simon Schama and Michael Gove chaired by Andrew
Marr, BBC Radio, December 2013
Historians Tom Holland and Margaret Macmillan also took part in this fascinating discussion between Gove and Schama. The broadcast is notable for three things. First, Michael Gove admitted that he was an unashamed Whig but that he was, nevertheless, happy with the idea of a school student having the freedom to make up his own mind about whether he wanted to be a Whig or a Marxist. Secondly, Tom Holland put forward the idea that there were, in fact, two kinds of interacting Whig narrative tradition – ‘high politics’ being one and ‘history from below’ as exemplified by E.P. Thompson [see note 54 below]. Of course, both of these traditions could be sewn into a national curriculum. There is indeed, as Tom Holland suggested, an Our Island Story model which is neo-Whig – encompassing both ‘high’ and ‘subaltern’ history, as well as both intranational and transnational dimensions – but with a distinctly quirky exceptionalism lacking in pomposity, and it had been visible on television. Simon Schama himself (presenter of A History of Britain) reaffirmed at Hay-on-Wye in May 2013 that Britain’s ‘glory’ was characterised by ‘division.’ Michael Wood’s Story of England (in book form and on TV) concentrated on villagers in Leicestershire and attempted an intranational narrative through their recorded local reactions to national and international events – a recognisably HA approach [see note 55 below]. Robert Bartlett’s presentations of The Normans and The Plantagenets emphasised the European and transnational dimensions of these phases of the ‘national’ narrative [see note 56 below]. Lucy Worsley’s The First Georgians – The German Kings who made Britain was also transnational – the story ‘warts and all’ of the
development of Britain’s political system, told wittily [see note 57 below]. (Guyver 2014: 9)

54 See Edward P. Thompson’s classic work, The Making of the English Working Class (London: Victor Gollancz, 1963). Raphael Samuel also comes to mind.
55 Michael Wood’s Story of England, BBC 4 Television (2010), http://bbc.in/ZtFKKT; The Story of England (London: Viking Penguin, 2010).
56 The Normans, BBC2 Television (2011), http://bbc.in/ZRK3R8; The Plantagenets, BBC 2 Television (2014), http://bbc.in/1jsPoUe.
57 The First Georgians – The German Kings who madeBritain, BBC 4 Television (2014), http://bbc.in/PKL2fL.

Guyver, R. (2014) ‘Michael Gove’s History Wars 20102014: The Rise, Fall and Transformation of a Neoconservative Dream’, Agora [Sungraphô] (Journal of HTAV – History Teachers’ Association of Victoria [Australia], Volume 49, Issue 4, pp. 4-11.

Andrew Marr and Start the Week, 30 December 2013
With the history curriculum now finalized and calm settling over these fraught debates, this was an end-of-year discussion between the presenter, Andrew Marr, and his guests Michael Gove, Simon Schama, Margaret Macmillan (another historian) and Tom Holland. Holland was a classicist and ancient historian, and he had just published a translation of Herodotus’s Histories (2013), beloved of Simon Schama. The programme was remarkable for its mutually tolerant good humour and shared sense of searching for a consensus. It explored some difficult dynamics in the construction of national history curricula like matching the level of what is studied with the age of the children, and the relationship between narrative and enquiry, and indeed between narrative and patriotism. It hit a note already flagged up by Lord Bew in his House of Lords address in 2011, that a pride in the past is not just a possession of the political right, that H. E. Marshall’s Our Island Story (1905) had a radical subtext, and that one strand in English history, according to Michael Gove himself, citing the example of John Ball was the subverting of executive power by the people. Gerard Winstanley (1609–76), the Leveller, was included in this category by Tom Holland. (Guyver 2016: 170)

Note: John Ball, c.1338-1381, was a Lollard priest executed after his involvement in the Peasants’ Revolt.

Guyver, R. (2016), ‘England and the UK: Conflict and Consensus over Curriculum’, in R.Guyver (Ed.), Teaching History and the Changing Nation State – Transnational and Intranational Perspectives, pp. 159-174. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Appendix 16 – Pre-2013 National Curriculum
Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2: http://www.rgs.org/NR/rdonlyres/BAAA2085-2E7E-4B0F-B6B4-13F715630293/0/FW_HistoryNC.pdf [pp. 103-107]
Key Stage 3: http://www.rgs.org/NR/rdonlyres/BAAA2085-2E7E-4B0F-B6B4-13F715630293/0/FW_HistoryNC.pdf