Teller of talescalls the tune

18th February 2005 at 00:00
Book-burning, catastrophe, awful deviation! The controversialist historian David Starkey tried hard to stir it up at an education conference this week (page 4). Unfortunately, it's difficult to quibble with many of his points.

Schools can learn from TV history; there is no excuse for such a thrilling subject to be dull. Many children do not understand chronology. And yes, German history is a "warning", of which schools are so aware that government advisers have criticised history's "Hitlerisation".

His argument unravels when he condemns EH Carr's What is History? because it "prioritised historians over history". The subject, he says "is fundamentally a branch of storytelling". As a consummate storyteller, Dr Starkey knows facts are not neutral. It matters who is telling the story - the victor or the loser, the king or the peasant, David Starkey or EH Carr.

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