Saturday, 5 May 2007

Now we don't 'do' history

[...] In modern schools, of course, history tends to mean Hitler. A simple lesson is served up to students on a plate: fascism is bad. The political and moral ambiguities of classical history, which inspired Machiavelli and Shakespeare, Jefferson and Marx, barely intrude upon the classroom. Students who wish to study Greece and Rome - no less the bedrocks of our own civilisation now than in previous centuries - already find it difficult enough. Next year, however, they will find it impossible. OCR, the single examination board in the country to set an A-level in ancient history, has decided to abolish it. Any student inspired by seeing 300 in the cinema, or watching Gladiator on DVD, or playing Rome: Total War on a PC, will soon have nowhere to go.

At a time when the profile of classical history has never been higher in the mainstream media, and when the uptake of the AS-level alone has tripled since 2000, it seems an act of near lunatic irresponsibility to prevent students from studying a discipline that actually enthuses them. Read more

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