Nonsense words spell a nonsensical future

14th January 2011 at 00:00

If Michael Shaw is looking for an extra New Year's resolution, might I suggest giving impartiality a try? His comment in last week's editorial that the prioritisation of certain subjects by the proposed English Baccalaureate would not "help create a high-tech, knowledge economy ... though on the bright side we will have lots of young people who can draw maps of Roman towns" was a startling and unexpected criticism of GCSE history.

Leaving aside the argument of knowledge for knowledge's sake (and the relevance of topics such as the effect of the Great Depression in Weimar Germany, or the relationship between religion and science in the development of medicine) the skills that history provides are precisely the ones students need to prepare for their role in a "high-tech, knowledge economy".

Studying history teaches you how to evaluate diverse sources of information, to cross-reference conflicting accounts, and to synthesise a coherent argument from masses of evidence - fundamental skills for the internet-dependent world of the 21st century.

Lee Jackson, Pilton Community College, Barnstaple, Devon.

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