Dissolve The Union, says Labour

Jenny Marra has committed one of the great historical solipsisms: judging the past through her own personal experience and the concerns of her own time.

This is why history needs to be taught in schools. By which I mean a curriculum organised in a chronological way which doesn’t fudge the tricky bits, like the Reformation or, indeed, the lead-up to and the fallout from the Union of 1707. (My favourite was a teacher who decided to “teach” Mary, Queen of Scots to 11-yr-olds, but who decided to leave out any reference to religion because we were located in the West of Scotland. Oh, dear.)

Instead, many schools favour the old standards starting with an appetiser of the industrial revolution with a side helping of the expansion of the franchise, before the main course of (yet again) World War II. This is a very particular sort of “history”: the history of progress, duping yet another unwary generation.

My children’s state school didn’t offer Scottish history options, but in a way, that’s not the point. The point is that, even if these choices had been available, they would still have been absolutely unable to place what they had learned into a wider context, for the simple reason that each topic had been torn out and presented with no connection to anything that came either before or after.

So, Marra’s sound-bite comments and the trail of people who followed her lead, are exactly what I’d expect. Not that it’s any less disappointing.


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