;History is, indeed, a central component of national self-understanding. But for much of the past 30 years, the notion of history as a grand narrative has been out of fashion, and the idea of placing the national history and culture at the centre of teaching in schools has been attacked as ethnocentric and reactionary. As a result, many British children leave school with no sense of the broad sweep of their national history and culture; they feel neither pride in the achievements of their nation, nor shame at its wrongdoings. There are various reasons for this. One is a desire to provide children with a cosmopolitan education to fit them for our post-imperial and, by implication, post-national future. Another is the desire not to exclude ethnic minority children by teaching them about events with which they have no personal connection.
Posted February 1, 2003