Title: 'Michael Gove's War on Professional Historical Expertise: Conservative Curriculum Reform, Extreme Whig History and the Place of Imperial Heroes in Modern Multicultural Britain', British Politics, published online, May 19th 2019. DOI: 10.1057/s41293-019-00118-3.
Abstract: Six years of continuously baiting his opponents within the history profession eventually amounted to little where it mattered most. UK Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, finally backtracked in 2013 on his plans to impose a curriculum for English schools based on a linear chronology of the achievements of British national heroes. His 'history as celebration' curriculum was designed to instil pride amongst students in a supposedly shared national past, but would merely have accentuated how many students in modern multicultural Britain fail to recognise themselves in what is taught in school history lessons. Now that the dust has settled on Gove's tenure as Secretary of State, the time is right for retrospective analysis of how his plans for the history curriculum made it quite so far. How did he construct an 'ideological' conception of expertise which allowed him to go toe-to-toe for so long with the 'professional' expertise of academic historians and history teachers? What does the content of this ideological expertise tell us about the politics of race within Conservative Party curriculum reform? This article answers these questions to characterise Gove as a 'whig historian' of a wilfully extreme nature in his attachment to imperial heroes as the best way to teach national history in modern multicultural Britain.
On June 2nd 2021 I recorded a podcast on the invitation of Dr Joseph Maslen for the 'From Values to Virtues' series run out of the University of Glasgow. It was organised around the content of my British Politics article on Michael Gove's history wars and my characterisation of Gove's position as one of extreme Whig history. The discussion took Gove's time as Secretary of State for Education as a starting point for discussing the way in which the teaching of history in schools has been appropriated by the Johnson Government in its attempts to govern through culture wars.