How and what should we teach about the British Empire in schools?

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The accession of a conservative led coalition government in the United Kingdom has brought calls for a reform of the history curriculum in schools, both in terms of what historical content is taught, and how the subject should be taught.
As part of this process, politicians have called for a re-appraisal of the way that the British Empire is taught in schools, with Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove (amongst others) arguing for a more positive and less apologetic approach to the teaching of this topic.
The paper considers the implications of this suggestion for the teaching of history in schools not just in terms of what young people should be taught about the British Empire, but how the issue of the British Empire, and the question of ‘empire’ more generally, should be taught, in terms of teaching methods and approaches.
This issue has far-reaching implications, not just in terms of how this facet of school history is approached (‘empire’ is an important concept in many countries, not just in the UK), but also in terms of the overarching purposes of teaching young people about the past.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationYearbook of the International Society of History Didactics
EditorsJoanna Wojdon
Place of PublicationSchwalbach
PublisherWochen Schau Verlag
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)978-3-7344-0033-9
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • history education

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