"The Corruption of the Curriculum"

I am a "Friend" of Civitas which means that in return for a certain annual sum, I am sent all their new titles as soon as they are published. I do not always agree with everything that they write but most of it is really first rate. One important book, just published, is "The Corruption of the Curriculum". A collection of essays edited by Robert Whelan, it examines the imperative of social engineering and political expediency that now dominates education in Britain. There are essays on the teaching of English, Geography, History, Foreign Languages, Maths and Science.

The essay by Alex Standish "Geography used to be about maps" is one of the most thought-provoking. One quotation:
The elevation and conflation of the local and the global in the proposition 'Think Global, act local' is implicitly a rejection of the national sphere. It represents a denial of the political system through which citizens currently express their collective will via political representatives: the national will as sovereign power in the international sphere. Therefore not only is global citizenship disingenuous with regard to how the world currently operates (there is no world government, nor global body for citizens to hold to account), it is rejecting collective interest as a means through which politics is conducted while offering no democratic alternative.
Later, he says,
Through the language of empowerment and identity formation, global citizenship education replaces the political process with a new moral code and encourages deference to higher authority rather than independent political thought.
In "The New History Boys", Chris McGovern laments the rejection of narrative history in favour of teaching through perspectives so that students are not required to know what actually happened so much as to interpret an event (any event) through the "lens" of the experience of women, cultural diversity, the different beliefs of minorities, etc. In practice, as he points out,
"When children learn about Elizabeth I they are as likely to learn about how she dressed and went about her daily life as they are about what she did."
I look forward to reading the essays about languages, maths and science. This is a book I would recommend to anyone who is interested in education in Britain today, especially parents. If they are aware of the gaps in their children's education, they will be able to gather resources and provide experiences that will go some way to making up the deficiency. As Chris McGovern points out,
"Currently, the custodians of our national identity are Blue Badge guides and the Beefeaters."

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