The new History curriculum and The Nursery History of England
So the teaching of history is to be overhauled and all children in primary school are to be taught a chronological history of 'Our Island Story.' Well three cheers for that.
But if this is to happen schools will need to buy new books and - as luck would have it - I have a copy at my elbow of the very history book which every single child should be given as a basic 'primer' of history.
The Nursery History of England is probably the finest history book ever written. And I don't mean the finest 'childrens' history either -I mean the 'Finest' full stop. What is so horrifying of course is that when it was published, shortly before the Great War, every child in the land was taught the basics of British History and knew the dates of the kings and queens as well as the dates of the key events in the history of our Island. Now - talking to my children's friends - or actually middle aged adults -I am horrified by their complete ignorance.
So what is so brilliant about the Nursery History of England? In one word- it is pictures. Glorious technicolour pictures as well. Open the book at random and on one page there will be two beautifully painted pictures of events in history while -on the page opposite- are two short explanatory paragraphs. My sisters and I poured over this book in our childhood and -if I close my eyes -I can recall many of the pictures from my memory bank. King Alfred burning the cakes, King Cnut ordering back the waves, King John and the Magna Carta, the Empress Matilda fleeing across a snow covered landscape and so on. All the great stories are here.
All right -I will admit - perhaps some of the sentiments and views expressed may jar with some of our friends in the Urban Metropolitan elite. Take the final entry which concerns King George V's visit to India.
One of the biggest countries which belongs to England is India. It is very hot and poor English people do not go out there, but just a few English people who help to rule the country. There are a great many Indian princes. A short time ago king George and queen Mary went out to India, and the Indian princes went and bowed down before them to do them honour. Some of them brought presents, and it was a very fine sight. The king and queen wish India to be happy and all the other lands they rule as well.