Ed Gove, Education Minister of England wants teachers to emphasize good things about the British Isles and cease tearing down its accomplishments. He wants a history taught that “celebrates the distinguished role of these islands in the history of the world.” There is no doubt England has played an important role in fostering ideas of democracy and government based on the will of the people. That concept is readily taught in the context of discussing the world from 1780 on. There is no need to “celebrate” since teaching this concept is supported by historical materials and events.
But, when government officials “suggest” how history should be taught, it opens the flood gates of control and brain washing rather than a history centered in critical thinking and examining a variety of views about a topic. For example, the heroic fight of the British people from September, 1940 to June, 1941 represents a wonderful chapter in the history of democracy. Mr.Gove does not understand that teachers will present contributions of those fighting for democracy in the normal process of teaching. They do not need mandates from government officials.
On the other hand, there is ample evidence in societies like South Africa, history has become a tool of those in power who seek to instill their views of history upon youth. The time period 1652(when Europeans arrived in South Africa) to 1994 is now termed, “the oppression.” South African soldiers played an important role in defeating Nazi forces in Africa, but that is ignored because in modern South Africa, white skinned people can do no right.
In the words of famous German historian, teach history as it really was, not as you wish it had been!