Throwing Away the Past

I was horrified to learn today that a third of state schools in England are not teaching history past age 14. It appears 1,479 secondary schools did not enter any pupils for GCSE history. To clarify this for American readers, this is roughly the same as no history after Middle School. History is not a required subject at GCSE, but to not even offer it as an option is scandalous.

It is not entirely surprising, as there are a similar number of schools not teaching geography after 14 either. Nor is it surprising because the humanities subjects are undervalued by the education system as a whole. Everything is about English, Maths, and Science.

I’m not saying this because I teach a humanities subject. That Religious Education is on the fringe of the curriculum is no surprise. In most schools it is only there because the law requires it. Why this Government hasn’t abolished the requirement that RE be taught from Reception to Year 11, I don’t know. I’m not saying it should – I need to pay my mortgage. I just don’t understand why it hasn’t been targeted by the secularist apparatchiks at DfES. But I digress. . .

Even a secularist society should be able to see the need for history and geography. How else will they understand the world as it was and as it is? And particularly if students are going to ignore RE (the closest thing to philosophy, if it is taught well), history is the only other subject that provides them the opportunity to think. In other words, what does it matter if they learn English if they have nothing worthwhile in their brains to communicate?


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