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Learning to Teach History in the Secondary School



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The purposes of school history

Statements about the need for people to have/develop a sense of pride/loyalty/ patriotism towards their own country (this raises the interesting question about whether pupils should be taught about ‘the dark pages’ of their national history – massacres, defeats, inglorious or shameful elements of the national story).

‘To have national pride should be seen as a virtue, not a vice. That is why the Prime Minister and I are determined to see British history at the heart of history teaching in our schools.’

John Patten (1994) Speech at Andover, 18 March, DfE press release 70/94.

’School history should help pupils understand how a free and democratic society has developed over the centuries, stressing Britain’s political constitutional and cultural heritage.’

Kenneth Baker (1989) Daily Telegraph, 3 April.

‘History teaching should teach pupils to understand the development of the shared values which are a distinctive feature of British society.’

The Department for Education and Science, quoted in Joseph, K. (1984) Why teach history in school? The Historian, Spring: insert.

‘When it comes to history, I want our children to know the main events in our history because it is these events which have shaped up as we are today.  The creation of the Church of England under the Tudors, the development of parliament under the Stuarts, the transformation of the world through the industrial revolution, the extension of the franchise to women and young people,   the spread of Britain’s influence for good throughout the empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  All these things are matters in which we should take great pride.’

Kenneth Baker, (1988) Speech to the Conservative Party Conference.

‘Young children like heroes. Indeed they need heroes… For history shows virtue continuously triumphing over wickedness, courage over cowardice, and that a good little un’ can beat the big bad ‘un.’

(Try telling that to the people of Poland.)

Kenneth Baker, quoted in Slater, J. (1989) The politics of history teaching: a humanity dehumanised?, London, Institute of Education, University of London: 9.

(See also the section on quotations from recent British Prime Ministers).

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