History and National ldentity in the Classroom

Paul Goalen on questions of national identity in the classroom.

During the course of 1995, Dr Nick Tate, the Chief Executive of SCAA (School Curriculum and Assessment Authority), initiated a debate on the role of history teaching in schools in the formation of national identity. In a keynote speech delivered to history teachers and advisers in York in September 1995, Dr Tate outlined his belief that 'national identities depend on stories' and that teachers need to provide children with 'a sense of belonging to a community which stretches back into the past and forward into the future' in order to give them 'a sense of meaning in a world which is in a state of constant social, economic and technological flux'. Like others before him, Dr Tate assumed that large doses of British history served up as part of the staple diet of our children's schooling would affect the way they perceive themselves as members of the wider community of Great Britain.

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