Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Forget Citizenship Tests - What about History?

According to figures released by the Conservative Party today, just 31 percent of schoolchildren in England and Wales study History to GCSE level. Astonishingly, since 1997, over five million children have taken no GCSE in History. Forget citizenship lessons, it is a knowledge of the history of oneself and others that equips people to deal most adequately with their place in the world. Ironically these figures are released the day after Niall Ferguson, at the Hay Literary Festival, pointed out that economists got the credit crunch so spectacularly wrong largely because they were not trained to think historically. ‘There are economic professors in American universities who think they are the masters of the universe,’ said Ferguson. ‘But they didn’t have any historical knowledge. I have never believed that markets are self-correcting. No historian could.’ In Britain’s primary schools history is to be merged (or submerged) into the new discipline of ‘historical, geographical and social understanding’. No further comment is needed.

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