For most people their studies of British history at school began at 1066 and ended in 1945 with Churchill flipping V signs in Trafalgar Square, but now Michael Gove wants to change that with his radical overhaul of the history curriculum. Here LSi gives five suggestions to Mr Gove of previously overlooked moments of British history that deserve a look in on his new (and improved?) curriculum.
Stonehenge- circa 2000 BC
No one really knows who built Stonehenge, nor do they know when it was built, nor do they know why it was built. This sense of uncertainty makes it perfect for starting off a young child’s odyssey into history.
Alfred the Great- 849-99 AD
Ruling far from the madding crowd in a Dark Ages Wessex, Alfred the Great is perhaps one of the most overlooked and key figures in British history. Alfred is the only British monarch to be known as “the Great”; surely children should be learning about the great monarchs and not ones who were known as the “be-shitten”? Alfred is mostly known for repelling the Vikings from England and generally being a nuisance to all who tried to invade, but during his downtime he was a pretty big advocate for English Language education. Perhaps our own Education Secretary could take a leaf out of Alfred’s book?
The invention of the Sandwich- 18th century
The invention of the humble sandwich should be taught alongside the invention of the steam engine, telephone and World Wide Web as an example of British ingenuity at its very best. Invented as way to allow eating while gambling by John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, the sandwich is a common sight in many school lunch boxes- yet how many pupils know where it comes from? Arguably one of Britain’s biggest exports the sandwich deserves a place in the new history curriculum; however, later attempts to bastardise this great invention with mayonnaise should be overlooked.
The War of Jenkin’s Ear- 1739-48 AD
The War of Jenkin’s Ear was a rather long war against Spain in the Americas that ended with very little change to both empires’ boundaries. In fact the war was so insignificant in terms of greater importance that it got swallowed up under the wider mantle of the Wars of Austrian Succession and was never properly resolved. The War of Jenkin’s Ear should be taught for the name alone, maybe if there were more wars named after body parts history would be more interesting? I eagerly await the War of Michael’s Foot and the War of Sir Phillip’s Kidney.
The first airing of Blackadder Goes Forth- 1989 AD
Why not Mr Gove? It’s a well-loved piece of British culture. If you are going to have five year olds learn about Christina Rossetti then they might as well also learn about the greatest television show of all time too…
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