I have published an article co-written with my Warwick colleague, Shahnaz Akhter in the London Review of Education. It is entitled, 'Decolonising the School Curriculum in an Era of Political Polarisation', and it appears in volume 20, issue 1 of the journal. It is published in fully open access format and is available at https://doi.org/10.14324/LRE.20.1.27Link opens in a new window.
Abstract: 'Decolonising objectives have arisen in England as a reaction to a broader political context that could hardly be called supportive of such aims. Teachers who wish to engage actively with lesson planning consistent with a decolonised curriculum are confronted with ever stricter guidance from government ministers about how they are expected to stick rigidly to content that is centrally approved. With the Conservative Party currently appearing to believe it benefits electorally from engineering political polarisation, full-throated endorsement of a culture-wars narrative that associates a decolonised school curriculum with an attack on the very idea of Britishness is perhaps the logical destination. In this article, we show that the Government's insistence that decolonisation should not take place is endorsing a vision of citizenship that is wholly at odds with the realities of modern multicultural schooling.'
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.
On June 7th 2019 I had a post published on the LSE's British Politics and Policy blog site. It is called 'Michael Gove's War on Historians: Extreme Whig History and Conservative Curriculum Reform'. It follows closely the argument in my recently published British Politics article which looks at the controversial role of imperial 'heroes' in the most recent national curriculum in history. It asks whether white settlers and their often brutal means of settling are really the most appropriate role models for children in a modern multicultural society, as well as how far access to the character of the country these children call home is restricted when treating Empire simply as a symbol of British greatness.