Gove attacks ‘infantilisation’ of history lessons

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Michael Gove yesterday launched a scathing attack on the “infantilisation” of history teaching which is encouraging youngsters to study historical figures through Disney and Mr Men stories.

Proper history teaching is being “crushed” under play-based learning, the Education Secretary claimed. In a speech, Mr Gove said he had concerns about how the subject is being taught in schools and insisted that the national curriculum must be revamped to ensure that pupils are growing up “knowing the story of our islands”.

He criticised lesson plans published by the Historical Association which he claimed suggest that primary school children could learn about historical periods through organising fashion parades, playing with plasticine or Cluedo-style detective games.

Teaching resources published on a different website suggest that teenagers should learn about the rise of Hitler as a Mr Men story, he told the Brighton College Education Conference.

“In their autumn 2012 issue of Primary History, the Historical Association suggest students learn about the early Middle Ages by studying the depiction of King John as a cowardly lion in Disney’s Robin Hood,” Mr Gove said. “If that proves too taxing then they are asked to organise a fashion parade or make plasticine models.”

He added: “The draft history curriculum is a direct attempt to address the failure – over generations – to ensure children grow up knowing the story of our islands.”

Mr Gove is to consider submissions to a consultation on the proposed new national curriculum.