On Facebook earlier this week, History Today drew attention to an article in the Daily Mail where Professor David Abulafia of Cambridge University bemoans the lack of British history key event teaching at GCSE level, suggesting 31 which he thinks every child shud kno. I Tweeted the url and a fairly lively discussion followed, as expected. But Twitter is a fairly hopeless forum for this sort of thing, so if you’d like to check the article and make your own observations here, that would be lovely. As an old-school Gradgrind, my own position is broad agreement with the Professor but not necessarily his selection, or – more to the point – his omissions.
But that’s the fun in this sort of article. I was surprised by Trafalgar but no Waterloo (although I’d concede the argument that Trafalgar may have been more important); nothing on plagues; Gunpowder Plot; you can’t have Treaty of Paris, secession of American colonies, and then leave out Plassey; Great Fire of London; the Indian Mutiny. Tweeters criticised lack of anything on suffrage, women’s or otherwise. And so on. And what about technology? Railways and the spinning mule are mentioned. But the phone, car, airplane, radio, television and the silicon chip have all made a fundamental impact historically. Maybe it’s because they are everyday items that are still with us, we take them for granted without considering their historical impact.
So what do you think about the Professor’s selection? And his arguments?