Teaching History: The Path to Salvation

The Whig interpretation of the past is a moral fable more akin to theology than history, argues Tim Stanley.

Michael Gove after announcing his planned review of the National Schools Curriculum, January, 2011.I am a big fan of Michael Gove and his campaign to make schools teach something, but his proposed history curriculum contains a flaw. On the one hand, it is great news that he wants to give every child a working narrative of British history. On the other hand, it is troubling that it is to be accompanied by a meta-narrative of British ‘progress’ – as if history was a moral fable. Giles Fraser, the Anglican cleric, writes warmly of Gove’s proposal:

What is at work here is secularised theology, technically a form of eschatology; the belief that history is the expression of God’s purpose for humanity, that it begins with the fall and works its way towards the salvation of the human race. Here, history is always working towards some final end.

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