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Anorak | Age Of Empire

Age Of Empire

by | 12th, July 2004

‘EVERY government succumbs in the end to a desire to return this country to a mythical Golden Age.

‘Keep out of the white and into the red…’

With Maggie Thatcher, it was a nostalgia for Victorian values – the same values that would not have even given her the vote, let alone the chance to be Prime Minister.

With John Major, it was of course the disastrous Back To Basics campaign – long shadows on cricket grounds, warm beer, old maids cycling to Holy Communion and Tory ministers banging their secretaries.

And with Tony Blair, it is his Billy Bunterisation of the country’s schools, with the proposals for a return of school uniform, school houses and competitive sport.

This morning, we learn that this revolution is to go even further with Ofsted recommending that more time is devoted to teaching pupils about the British Empire.

‘Critics of present teaching,’ explains the Telegraph, ‘argue that children primarily learn about history through the eyes of those who suffered injustice at British hands – such as slaves.

‘They do not receive an adequate picture of the political and military history of the empire which would enable them to understand its significance and legacy.’

At the moment, the paper says, children are more likely to learn about the American Plains Indians than the empire builders.

They are taught about the likely experiences of soldiers’ and sailors’ wives and not about Clive of India, for example.

Chris McGovern, director of the History Curriculum Association, said: ‘What us being taught in schools is the empire as a means of promoting a guilt complex.

‘There is only an interest in it if it can be shown as part of social education, to show injustice.’

Instead, says the Telegraph, it should explain ‘why our concept of nationhood is civic rather than ethnic’; why English is spoken on every continent; and why, twice in the past century, millions volunteered to cross half the globe to fight for a country they had never seen.

It also explains ‘why Britain has so much more in common with her former colonies than with her geographical neighbours’.

In other words, why we hate the French and shouldn’t join the euro.’



Posted: 12th, July 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink