A British Education

Richard J. Evans reacts to recent calls to revise British history:

The present curriculum for children from five to 14 offers an image of Britishness that pays at least some attention to the multiethnic composition of British society. Its critics want to replace this with a narrowly nationalistic identity built on myths about the ‘British’ past, as if there was such a thing before the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707 – or, indeed, as many Scots (or for that matter Welsh) would argue, after it. It makes far more sense to teach British children of South Asian or Afro-Caribbean background about the parts of the world where their families originated – the history of the Mughal Empire, or of Benin or Oyo, for example – than to teach them about Alfred and the cakes or Drake and the Armada.