This morning, I heard education secretary Micheal Gove spell out his plans for education reform. Amongst these included a relaxation of the “Don’t Touch” laws in order to give teachers more disciplinary power, and a bigger emphasis on traditional grammar. But the main point that really surprised – and appalled me- were his changes for the school subject of history. He claims that he wants history to be taught in a sequential way. And why exactly do I find this so utterly preposterous? To give some background to this, I, like so many other people have a passion for history which centres on more recent, political studies than Gove clearly wants to teach to the very young. At school I gained an A* in my history GCSE and then studied that subject with relish at A-level, something which naturally would not have happened had I not enjoyed it from an early age. Now, the history which grabbed my attention will not be a part of early education through Gove’s reforms. This may well suit some children better. But the point is, by only focusing on earlier history in early education, and following a sequential pattern instead of mixing it up, many children will not know what their favourite history period is. They will be denied the chance to find it. Studying a mixture of time periods means that all children can have a chance to find a passion for history in some form, from an early stage in life. Some may find it anyway through the study of early history, but early history is not for everybody.

I am surprised that anybody in politics would want sequential history to be taught. After all, my teaching more recent, more political history to children from a younger age we are teaching them the direct line to the modern political world, and how we reached it. It is through teaching this that we can pique children's interests in politics; why would any politician be against this? Shouldn’t this be something which we should be keen to turn them to? I was actively involved with the Anti-Nazi League and the Socialist Party from a young age; and of course there may be other factors in this aside form my education, such as growing up in the working class mining town of Nottinghamshire’ s Sutton-in-Ashfield (all my maternal side of the family were miners.) But this environment was also fairly apolitical; it was studying history which helped to fully form this identity, and I know that it will have been the same for many of my generation. I am not suggesting that history as a subject should be used for propaganda, either. My history teachers always remained subjective and never actively influenced me through their own opinion. As I was getting ready to leave school, my teacher even went so far as to tell me that they did not actually agree with my opinions, but respected the integrity and passion behind them. Many children taught history the way I was will have come to completely different opinions: I am not suggesting that sequential history should not be taught simply in order for more people to be like me.

So Micheal Gove, maybe there are some things you would like to think about before putting this ridiculous proposal in place. Like how children will be denied knowing how we reached the modern state we are in. Like how contemporary atrocities will become overlooked until later in life, making them almost swept under the carpet by the educational system. How an interest in politics, a traditionally “young” pursuit, will have to wait until a little later in life. I strongly suggest, Mr. Gove, that you consider all of these factors.
But more than that, Micheal Gove, I ask you to consider the way that so many children may be denied finding a passion for this oft-glorious subject.

And that is the very definition of “a crying shame.”

Amy Britton