James Forsyth

What about Whig history?

What about Whig history?
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Simon Schama, who is advising the government on drawing up a new history section of the national curriculum, has an essay in The Guardian today setting out why and what children should learn about our ‘island story’. Schama highlights Thomas Becket’s clash with Henry II, the Black Death and the Peasants' Revolt, Charles the First’s execution, the establishment of the British Raj in India, the opium wars and the Irish question, as things that every school kid should be taught about.

But at the risk of being too crudely Whiggish, the most important thing is surely that pupils learn how Britain became a democracy. It will help people understand the importance of their democratic rights, if they know how they were won.

Some will argue that this kind of narrative is just propaganda. But it is the line of best fit through British history.