Monday, October 22, 2012

A History Lesson From Michael Gove

On Andrew Mitchell (who is alleged to have called police "plebs")

“throughout history there have been ministers who it was assumed would have to go but toughed it out in office and then went on to deliver worthwhile reforms” (Daily Telegraph, 21 October 2012)

Suggesting that the police recollection of 'plebgate' may have been wrong, the Education secretary said people often had 'different recollections of the same event' and pointed to 1950s Japanese film Rashomon in which several characters gave a differing accounts of the same story. (Daily Telegraph, 21 October 2012)

On the purpose of teaching history

Gove ... wants history teachers to inculcate a sense of national identity ... (but) that is not what history teachers think they are there to do. (Francis Beckett, A History Lesson For Michael Gove, New Statesman, Jan 2012)

On the style of teaching history

Gove stresses 'facts' in school curriculum revamp (BBC News Jan 2011) See also Ofsted: Primary school history 'lacks narrative' (BBC News March 2011)

Gove champions British narrative history and is a big fan of H.E Marshall’s ‘Our Island Story: A History of Britain for Boys and Girls from the Romans to Queen Victoria’. He is also a fan of Niall Ferguson, a historian who champions the British and American empires. If history taught an interesting story, his logic goes, the kids would like it and be more capable of reciting ‘interesting’ patriotic facts. (John Westmoreland, Make Gove History, Counterfire April 2012)

For his GCSE history assignment a few years ago, my older son had to analyse a series of contemporary newspaper reports of Jack the Ripper. I guess the point of this assignment was to help the students understand how history is constructed from "different recollections of the same event".

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