Forward to 1968! Tory MP applauds the history education I suffered half a century ago

MP for The Shire?

Tory MP Anthony Higginbotham has come out ….as a Tory!… as a member of the Conservative Union Research Group! Just as the European Research Group promoted the European Union, so they will promote the strength of Great Britain.

What the ERG was against the EU but the CURG is in favour of the UK? Why?

Anyhoo as Higginbottom often says, here’s a grand idea to do just that:

Let’s teach the history of each nation in schools!

Too late!

In my time in teacher education (84 to 04), I saw weans in Cumnock learning about Henry 8th, heard of bairns in Edinburgh doing the Plantagenets, Edward the 1st, and a colleague told me of seeing the oileanaich in Barra learning of the campaigns of English general Marlborough.

In my time in secondary school (63-69) I learned nothing of Scottish history and only that of the British Empire.

Stories of how wild and savage my own Highland ancestors were, certainly made ME grateful for that.

20 thoughts on “Forward to 1968! Tory MP applauds the history education I suffered half a century ago

  1. Of course the imperial British narrative was propagated to us principally via history in schools. It was overtly political. Literature, to a fair extent also served this purpose.

    It was not just the histories of the nations – including those of England – which were suppressed – but the history of working people, women, etc were also excluded.

    Flann O’Brien in ‘The Poor Mouth’ deals with the suppression of Irish Gaelic and indigenous culture, in a very witty way and by ‘fantasising’ plausible actions.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I suspect that in Curgistan, each nation would learn the history of one nation—England.

    The once and future colonial narrative, imposed as usual from Londongrad.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. John, you “saw” pupils in Cumnock. Does this mean you taught at “The Academy?| The finest school in Scotland. Even in my time there – 1958 – 1962, we got a lot more English than Scottish history. At least, at my Primary School, our Headmaster ensured we got a good grounding in Scottish history.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Sadly, a lot of opposition to increasing the amount of Scottish history (and, indeed, Scottish literature) in secondary schools came from the TEACHERS!

        Some, being trade unionists and Labour voters or members saw this as ‘nationalist shibboleths’ and had to be opposed. Often, they expressed their opposition in dismissive terms implying that it was ‘not significant’.

        Some, having come through History courses in Scottish Universities, which eschewed Scottish history, admitted that they knew little or nothing about it and felt that they would not be able to do so effectively.


      2. And to add to the massive problem in the teaching of Scottish history
        Between Edward 1st & Cromwell
        They deliberately DESTROYED over 90% of all written Scottish History
        But fret not we are currently writing the most important piece now as we without doubt wearer about to take our Nation back
        We can only throw it away ourselves by Division in our ranks and play the Unionist game for them
        So let us not destroy what is being written in draught form today


    1. Enjoyed history at Cumnock, mostly European (WW1 etc, though the books were still redolent of “England’s Kings, Queens, prime minister’s”)). It also seemed to be one of a few classes where the teacher taught without recourse to the belt.

      Mind you Wee Peggy used a long wooden ruler/pointer—- no need for leather when you could crack a knuckle or two.
      I left in ’65, happily. The vast bulk of pupils, then, were not going to Uni, so kids were to an extent, kicking their heels till it was time to go.


      1. Gavinochiltree
        You bring to mind my old school days when the teacher used a long wooden stick as a pointer
        One day in 5th year of secondary i was obviously behaving in a jovial manner
        When our maths teacher pointed her stick at me saying Doyle there is a idiot at the end of this stick
        And without hesitation i raised my hand
        Teacher said well what is it
        My reply I concur Miss but could you be so kind as to inform at which end of the stick the idiot is


  4. I am just waiting for someTory to spout of the need to revert to Imperial measurement as an aid to British businesses in an efforts to secure their ‘great’ US trade deal that will see us all pretty well stitched up and ditching those dastardly and confusing metrics to stick one on the French.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Dear Anthony
    As a deprived stupid slum dwelling Scot
    I whole heartily concur with you pertaining to education of English history in Scottish Schools.
    Particularly so as my 2 grandchildren are about to start primary school and it is imperative that they receive the best possible education. Note the latter word is derived from Ancient Greek which translates as
    To Free the Mind
    So I urge you on in freeing of their minds
    1.AT beginning of each lesson MUST be by commencement with a rendition of one of the finest pieces of glorious English history by means of playing and singing of a very fine tune indeed
    I hear you ask and what might that be
    Well the tune to which i refer to was played under the name of Hey Tuttie Tatie by a Scottish regiment leading in
    Joan of Arc into the English garrison to accept their surrender
    A little birdie tells me that this might just be the tune to R.Burns Scots Wha Hae
    Another most excellent example of English history
    Also may i draw to you attention that this said piece of music is often played by the top German military musicians upon visitation of French leaders to their lands
    No doubt the children shall be stirred and enthralled in such a manner that they eagerly await further English days of Empire history inc. Of
    1.Invention of the concentration camp in the Boer war and how A.Hitler was a great admirer of such so much so he felt compelled to copy
    2.Mass genocide of indigenous natives of New found lands to colonise
    3.The use of Mass starvation conveniently deployed in suppressing possible rebellion in the colonies during crop failures
    This will give them a real taster and thirst
    For more

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I was shocked, when looking through my son’s history homework in the ’80’s to discover he was being taught the same history I remembered as a school boy from the ’60’s.

    I found it rather confusing at the time to be lauding an English king given the title, “Hammer of the Scots”.

    My classroom was situated about three miles from Admiral Duncan’s Camperdown estate, yet he never featured. Some guy called Nelson took all the glory.

    Much later on I read about a Scottish polymath who devised the tactics subsequently employed by the British navy to maximise their potential, where they drove through the enemy line in order to break up the formations and reduce the other fleets capabilities.

    Another Scot airbrushed from our history.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ken,
      Read all you can about the life and works of Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald. After Cochrane burned Napoleon’s fleet in Brittany while they were thought to be in an impregnable harbour the said Napoleon was so impressed that he considered taking Cochrane into the French navy. In his spare time he liberated Chile from the Spanish empire and freed Brazil from the Portuguese.
      I have only scratched the surface of the exploits of this Scottish hero who has been ‘airbrushed’ from our common history. Do read more.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Admiral Cochrane is better known in South America than he is here. Virtually every large city in the continent has a street named after him (Avenida Almirante Thomas Cochrane) and his army counterpart of Irish descent, General Bernardo O’Higgins. During the wars to free S America from the Spanish and Porugtuese Cochran was the founding father of the navies of Venezuela, Brasil and Chile and, to this day, each of these navies has its own pipe band for ceremonial occasions.

        My Scottish education in the 1950s was England- and Empire-led, so when I arrived in S America in the 1970s, I learned of Cochrane and his significance from the locals, who, in turn, were astounded that a Scotsman had never heard of him

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There was a small exhibition in the Museum of Scotland some time ago giving the story of Admiral Cochrane which, I think, was opened by someone from the Chilean Embassy.
        There is a memorial to him at Culross, which features a bust and I found useful information on the website for West Fife History.


      3. The complete Hero. Lord Cochrane’s exploits fill a volume and most Scots have never heard of him. Absolute disgrace, (as is said, about most of Scotland’s wonderful history and people’s achievements). The machinations of his downfall in the parliament in London clearly exposes the depths to which the ‘Great British Elite’ descend. He championed improvements in the treatment and health of the men of the Royal Navy, as well as all his other magnificent acts as a seaman.
        It takes a special type of ‘insulting spite’ to gloss over this ‘SuperScot’.


  7. History taught in our school in NE England glossed over anything negative, about the English. It was the most boring lesson when it should have have been the most interesting. Disgraceful.

    When I first came to live in Scotland I read Ian Crichton Smith’s, ‘Consider The Lilies’, it opened my eyes, being about the clearances in Scotland. I suspect divide and rule was very much a tool used by the English then as well.

    Didn’t really question why there was a ‘North British’ hotel dominating the east end of Princes street, until a bit later on. Always wondered why the main Edinburgh museum was called the ‘Royal Museum’. Very happy it is now called the ‘National museum of Scotland.

    When Higginbottom (what a name who thought that up, what’s it’s ‘history’! 😉 ) suggests teaching the history of each ‘nation’, does that mean teach about the clearances to kids in England etc? The resources available now are almost infinite, but school taught history is only as good as those who write the curriculum. I’d start every lesson with a question, and instruct the kids to find out using various tools, internet, books, talking to people, in order to learn about their own countries’ history, as a start. It’s a great subject when not used as a brainwashing mechanism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we need to be more careful in using the term “English”in this context, because we could be falling into the trap of the British/English dichotomy.

      The histories of many people and groups and places in England have been suppressed, too, and airbrushed from history, because they do not fit the BRITISH narrative.

      Arguably, this narrative has been foisted more successfully on the people of England to a far greater degree than on those of us in Ireland Scotland and Wales, because so many, even those of sincere internationalist humane views still think of Britain and England as synonyms.

      In the ‘Celtic Fringe” (the latter word is significant), we retained languages, institutions, music, legends, poetry, aspects of religion etc which kept us aware of the fact that we were Scots (Irish, Welsh) in addition to being tellt that we were BRITISH. Even the ‘proud Scots’ who sing Flower of Scotland with deep and sincere emotion at Murrayfield and then vote NO in the referendum, really do understand that Scottish and British are different.

      That these senses of Scottishness persisted through centuries of British propaganda delivered via our schools, etc, indicates that it is a pretty robust concept.

      “Alba gu brath!” as the ‘North British’ Dragoon Guards shouted as they charged at Waterloo and prevented defeat until the Prussians arrived and turned the battle.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I went to schools in Scotland England and Ireland as well as several overseas .
    I changed school 26 times
    Went to some twice , years apart
    Never was Scottish welsh or Irish history taught always English history overseas it was also English history that was taught.

    In the English towns I lived in they never ever celebrated new year either in fact you could walk down a street at 2 in the morning and if seen a light on and went closer and heard music you knew it was a scot celebrating new year , always accordion type old Scottish music.
    Nowadays england celebrates new year as if they always have and as if they own it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Alastair Macdonald
    You said
    “ Arguably, this narrative has been foisted more successfully on the people of England to a far greater degree than on those of us in Ireland Scotland and Wales, because so many, even those of sincere internationalist humane views still think of Britain and England as synonyms.“

    I disagree Alasdair , what you say is just what England foments , the view that it’s all not the fault of England it’s the British to blame but the fact is English is british and British is English but only when it suits England .
    England doesn’t suffer anything called British
    If it’s not suited to England’s want it’s not british it’s Scottish or Welsh or Irish

    Liked by 1 person

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