Longing for the past: politicians and the history curriculum in English schools, 1988-2010

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Scrutiny of the statements of UK politicians about the nature and purposes of teaching history in schools shows a strong desire to return to the “traditional” form of history education which was dominant in the UK until the 1970s, with its strong emphasis on a positive and heroic rendering of the national past, and away from the idea of history education to develop intellectual autonomy and provide historical perspectives on contemporary issues and problems. The concluding section of the paper considers the implications of this attempt to “turn back the clock”, and argues that it is intensifying the polarisation between policymakers and history education professionals, and may lead to a form of school history which many young people consider to be irrelevant and implausible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-25
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Education, Media, Memory and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • identity
  • collective memory
  • history education
  • School history
  • history wars
  • citizenship

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