19 July 2007

History is Balls

Like his boss and mentor Gordon Brown, Ed Balls, the new Secretary of State for Schools, is making policy pronouncements at a furious rate of knots. Having denounced over-protective Health & Safety policies in schools one day, the next he is complaining of an over-trendy curriculum that finds no room for Churchill. However, it would seem that Sir Winston himself has become more than a mortal human being - he has become a subject in his own right, like Physics.

According to The Sun, Balls insisted: “Churchill should be taught to all pupils and I shall be taking steps to ensure it is.” I'm not sure whether that means "it" is now something taught according to set principles - Laws of Churchill, or Winston Theorems. Keen not to be out-Churchilled, the opposition has also joined in this non-debate; Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove said: “Winston Churchill is the towering figure of 20th-century British history. His fight against fascism was Britain’s finest hour. Our national story can’t be told without Churchill at the centre.”

At the risk of introducing a sense of perspective here I was rather under the impression that it was the people of Britain under Churchill's leadership who stood up against fascism - certainly it was they who fell in their thousands, at home and overseas. Not to mention a few Americans and Russians. For a number of years, history teaching in schools was accused of a 'Cult of Personality' - overly focused on 20th century giants such as Stalin and Mao as simplistic embodiments of complex forces and political ideas.

Churchill himself once wrote: "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it." He may not have realised he would have so many keen publishers.

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