Teaching Winston Churchill

I note the Daily Mail has led on the story of the new National Curriculum with a triumphant gloat that Churchill is back on the agenda.

I am also chuffed that Churchill is back, but not for the same reasons as the Daily Mail. If the National Curriculum is really as ‘forward looking’ as is suggested in the article then I can only assume that this means we are no longer just going to get a picture of Churchill as the glorious war-time leader who looks like this:

But maybe we will also get to see representations of his mental illness, like this:

After all, Churchill was not ashamed of his bipolar disorder which he wrote and spoke about with reasonable regularity, and nor should he be. Furthermore many historians have now argued that it contributed a great deal to both his greatness and – at times – his moments of awfulness.  And I hope those moments of awfulness are also included in this new ‘history of Britain’. For if children are to be ‘taught of Churchill’ it should be done wholly and properly. So let us hope that alongside the triumph of WWII they are also taught of Churchill’s part in the Gallipoli Campaign, his disasterous turn as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his views on workers during the General Strike, and then also that he went on to win a Nobel Prize for Literature – demonstrating that leading armies is not the only way to be famous or successful.

If these aspects of his character are not given equal credence, and we allow the National Curriculum to uncritically idolise someone with such a complex potted history – & who could teach so much that will overturn misperceptions of mental illness – then the new National Curriculum is being no less neglectful than the last.  It is rare that I agree with the Daily Mail, but on this one we are united, just as long as their picture of Winston Churchill is in agreement with mine.



Categories: Curriculum, History

1 reply

  1. Spot on – Churchill is a far more interesting historical figure when you consider all aspects of his life, rather than just focussing on the wartime PM. But what do you reckon are the odds the Mail will be outraged if he’s portrayed as anything less than a Perfect British Hero? They might print their pictures in colour these days but they still seem to think in black and white…

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