Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Study of Past Sparks Debate about the Future in the UK

Randall Stephens

Readers might find interesting this recent article in the Guardian about history battles.   On the heels of the Niall Ferguson scandal, Labour Education spokesman and historian Tristram Hunt writes: "From curriculum rows to Niall Ferguson's remarks on Keynes, our past is the fuel for debate about th
Read the above at the BBC
e future." ("History is where the great battles of public life are now being fought," Guardian, May 12, 2013).

Here's a brief excerpt:

For as [Niall] Ferguson has discovered to his cost, history enjoys a uniquely controversial place within British public life. "There is no part of the national curriculum so likely to prove an ideological battleground for contending armies as history," complained an embattled Michael Gove in a speech last week. "There may, for all I know, be rival Whig and Marxist schools fighting a war of interpretation in chemistry or food technology but their partisans don't tend to command much column space in the broadsheets."

Even if academic historians might not like it, politicians are right to involve themselves in the curriculum debate. The importance of history in the shaping of citizenship, developing national identity and exploring the ties that bind in our increasingly disparate, multicultural society demands a democratic input. The problem is that too many of the progressive partisans we need in this struggle are missing from the field.

How different it all was 50 years ago this summer when EP Thompson published The Making of the English Working Class , his seminal account of British social history during the Industrial Revolution. "I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the 'obsolete' hand loom weaver, the 'utopian' artist ... from the condescension of posterity," he wrote.>>>

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