Lord Baker: It's time for a museum of British history





Everyone should have a clear idea of what has happened in our nation's history, how we got from the past to today. This is not romantic nostalgia but a practical recognition of how our society and our country works today or, in some cases, does not work.

It also helps children to understand what it means to be British. In France and America, history reinforces their national pride. America, indeed, has a Museum of History in Washington, as does Germany in Berlin.

Such a museum in this country would show the position of Britain as a world power and as a European power, and what over the centuries it has given the world. It would also demonstrate how Britain came together as a nation.

National pride should not just be a matter of cheering cricketers, rugby and football players. In modern times the basic freedoms that we live by - free speech, no arbitrary arrest, free democratic elections and universal suffrage are the gifts we have given to many parts of the world. These didn't simply come about, they emerged from centuries of struggle in which men and women suffered and died.

The museum would also show how over hundreds of years we have absorbed peoples from all races and all religions and how they have enriched our country. They came to us because they liked freedom, fair play, tolerance and the respect for others' opinions and rights. That's something to be proud of...

Hearing about educational achievement in Britain today is pretty depressing. In reading we are 17th in the world and in mathematics we are 24th - even behind Estonia and Slovenia. But it is just as worrying that history is dropping out of the curriculum.

In 2006, a third of state schools did not teach history after the age of 14. When I was fashioning the National Curriculum back in the 1980s I insisted that every student should take history up the age of 16, but this was later lowered to 14....


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