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John Simkin

Michael Gove and the Active History website

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Last week Education Secretary, Michael Gove used a conference at Brighton College to criticise material produced by Russel Tarr for his Active History website:


You can read about the original speech here:


Russell's reply can be found here:


It has also been discussed here:



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Michael Gove got everything wrong about this. But apparently he is right even when he is wrong. It just shows that assessment grades for bullying have been gradually degraded - an A** for bullying seems inadequate.

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Not only did Michael Gove attack the use of Mr Men in the teaching of History, he attacked the use the Disney cartoon version of Robin Hood. My own attempts some time ago to teach a class about how the Robin Hood narrative changed, from the original jolly yeoman story to the 19th century American version where he was ennobled, were once nearly foiled by the fact that when I asked the kids who Robin Hood was only 3 out of 30 knew - they had seen the cartoon, not even Kevin Costner. I wonder if subconsciously Mr Gove disliked the cartoon versions because they showed both Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham relishing the task of robbing the poor.

Anyway, it was in May 2010 that Mr Gove upset History teachers by turning to the historian Niall Ferguson to reform the teaching of History in English state schools, very publicly at the Hay Book Festival (rather than in Parliament which is the more traditional method of announcing these things). Later, he neatly kicked the problem into touch for two years by giving the historian Simon Schama (a Labour supporter) the task as 'History Czar'.

Well, it's all come full circle:


Edited by Norman Pratt

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