My article in today’s Cornish Guardian focuses on the importance of teaching Cornish history in local schools. It is as follows:
The attempt by the Education Secretary to introduce a new national curriculum for the teaching of history in schools has led to a number of unedifying rows in recent months.
Michael Gove had claimed he wanted teaching to “celebrate the distinguished role” of the
in the “history of the world.”
Some historians backed his proposals, but others complained that his preferred history syllabus was not “balanced.” One academic condemned it as “1066 and all that – but without the jokes,” while a magazine thought it resembled a pub quiz.
Mr Gove had also spoken about focussing on “British heroes and heroines.” Margaret Thatcher was named among the initial list of key historic figures to be studied and, unsurprisingly, the Conservative Minister was accused of “political bias,” while he branded his critics as “Marxists” and “lefties.”
The Government has announced that, following the controversy, the proposed syllabus has been heavily revised, with an enhanced emphasis on world history, though “there will still be a strong narrative of British history” at the core of curriculum.
In reality, there can never be a definitive answer as to which aspects of history should be taught in schools, though I have noticed that
doesn’t get a mention in Gove’s documents.
The national curriculum does however state that “pupils should be taught about … significant historical events, people and places in their own locality,” but the history of
is much more that “local” history.
There are many educational professionals and teachers, who are already working hard to ensure that local children are taught about
It is right that we applaud their work, and do all we can to ensure that their
efforts are built upon.
I believe that local children – and adults for that matter – do benefit from understanding more about the land in which they live, and what made it the place it is today.
There is so much to learn about and understand and treasure. This could include Cornwall’s Celtic origins, the Cornish language, mining, the mass emigration of Cornish men and women; the achievements of its people – engineers and inventors such as Richard Trevithick and Henry Trengrouse, scientists like Humphry Davy and John Couch Adams, social reformers and radicals such as Emily Hobhouse and William Lovett; and the struggles of the ordinary people of Cornwall who lived though the social and economic upheavals of times past.
The above image is of workers from Trewhela Clay Works in St Enoder Parish, dating to the early 1930s - it contains quite a few Coles!