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Monday, January 29, 2007

Learning to be a good citizen

Apparently, British schools are going to start teaching British history, in history lessons, in British classrooms. I tell you what, it’s revolutionary, but it just might work…

However, before you get ahead of yourself and start thinking that British historical knowledge is probably kind of important in its own right for all people living in Britain, as a way of extending their general understanding of their environment (or, indeed, before you start wondering how in the hell British history came to be removed from history lessons in the first place), you ought to know that this extraordinarily daring move is not about the government’s understanding of the intrinsic value of knowledge, but is being introduced specifically for ‘citizenship’ and ‘diversity’ purposes.

History classes have not been compulsory for children over the age of 14 since 1990, but instead of bringing back compulsory history, the government is introducing a brand new compulsory GCSE in ‘Citizenship’.
So that’s alright then.

Get yourself top marks in ‘tolerance, respect and justice’ classes, and Alan Johnson just might come round personally to pat you on the head and give you a sugar lump.

‘Secondary schools in England are to be forced to teach more British history to help pupils have a better understanding of their own identity and Britain's religious, racial, social and political diversity.
Lessons on the Commonwealth and empire, the slave trade and conflicts such as those in Northern Ireland are to be made a keystone of revamped citizenship education. Other issues such as migration will be made central to the curriculum. Pupils will be expected to learn core "British" values such as tolerance, respect, freedom of speech and justice and learn of "the shared British heritage"…
The education secretary, Alan Johnson, said yesterday that schools "can and should play a lead role in creating greater cohesion. The values our children learn will shape the kind of country Britain becomes. We are a nation built from and by people from other countries. We should celebrate our history and how it has created today's diversity, recognising the role played by immigrants in our success."
Mr Johnson has accepted recommendations from Sir Keith Ajegbo, a former London headteacher, that a new strand about living together in the UK should be added to compulsory citizenship lessons.’

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