History Dons Fight In An Educational Duel With No Winner.

Opinion / February 20, 2013

A delightfully eloquent spat has kicked off in the Guardian between two eminent History Professors. Both are understandably highly articulate, hugely knowledgeable of history yet hold totally opposed views on the future of the history curriculum in our schools. An unfortunate game of wit and criticism abounds. But there is also tragedy in this situation.

The energy they are imparting to openly criticise each other in a fashion only true academics can. It is a huge shame and waste of immense talent that these two guys can’t get on. Two heads are better than one as the saying goes. If they could pool their resource they would possibly create a solution that would be insurmountable. Our curriculum is, to say the least  battle scarred.  This impasse is not going to help.  

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The opportunity is being lost to derive a new stimulating history curriculum that would naturally attract school children to a subject all too often seen as a dry and boring. It is always best to test and defend a viewpoint before its launch. If you can convince your greatest opponent, or incorporate their views into a proposal the success rate is significantly higher. We have just witnessed a secretary of state for education go it alone with his proposals for the EBC, then almost immediately eat humble pie and withdraw the plan. Had he tested his plan he would have seen the gaps that created its downfall. Better still he could have incorporated adjustments suggested by our experienced teaching resources who after all have to make it work.

Our educational programme in the UK is creaking. A unified and stimulating plan to steer the future is horrendously overdue. We can all learn from our mistakes, the importance of history in the curriculum cannot be overstated as it presents the errors and successes made in the past. We can all learn from that, including fighting professors of history.

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